Greens mark International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia

Benali Hamdache and Sian Berry of the Green Party

May 17 is International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. The day is designed to raise awareness of the issues facing LGBTIQA+ people and to generate opposition to discrimination against them.

To mark the day, LGBTIQA+ Greens co-chair Benali Hamdache issued a call for more funding for specialised support services. In an article for Green World, Hamdache criticised existing government support for LGBTIQA+ people, especially during the current lockdown. He wrote:

Today, with us all in lockdown, too many face themselves stuck at home in hostile households. In the government’s LGBT+ survey, three out of every 10 respondents reported having experienced discrimination or harassment by someone they lived with.

Sadly, helplines, domestic violence services and specialist homelessness services have seen a surge in demand for support. And that’s with funding being more uncertain and a patchy government response to make up for lost funds.

He went on to specifically call for the government to increase funding of specialist services:

We need the government to do more to fund specialist LGBTIQA+ services. Government cuts have hit hard and there just aren’t enough specialist domestic violence refuges and homeless hostels. As Greens we can champion guaranteed governmental funding streams. We also want to see better planning on how these services can be provided across regions and across the nations.

Hamdache’s calls for additional funding were coupled with demands from the Green Party of England and Wales for the government to introduce a ban on conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is a psuedo-scientific process whereby a therapist attempts to “convert” somebody from being LGBTIQA+.

Speaking on the party’s demands, party co-leader Sian Berry said:

The biggest act of solidarity the Conservative government can do for IDAHOBIT is publish a legislative timetable for banning conversion therapy. Just this month we saw Germany bring in a ban, and we risk falling behind the rest of Europe on this important human rights issue.

No young person should be forced into harm’s way, and no adult should be conned into pursuing this pseudo therapy.

In addition to these demands, a number of figures and groups within the UK’s Green Parties also marked the day.

The LGBTIQA+ Greens – the Green Party of England and Wales’ LGBTIQA+ group tweeted:

The Rainbow Greens – the Scottish Green Party’s equivalent – pledged to continue their fight for equality:

The Scottish Green Party Trade Union Group committed to fighting discrimination in its members workplaces:

And Phelim Mac Cafferty – convener of the Green group on Brighton & Hove city council said that Greens stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the LGBTIQA+ community. He said:

Greens stand shoulder to shoulder with our city and our global LGBTIQA+ community to remember all of those worldwide who have lost their lives to bigotry and needlessly died as a result of being LGBT and homeless during the pandemic. We once again commit ourselves to the international battle against transphobia, biphobia and homophobia.

Greens call for greater support for renters in current crisis

Green Party MSP Andy Wightman
Image credit: Global Justice Now – Creative Commons

The coronavirus crisis has affected everyone. But some people have been hit far harder than others. Among those facing the brunt of the crisis are the 4.6 million households living in private rented accommodation. And after the lacklustre response to the issue from the Labour Party, leading Green figures have called for radical measures to be introduced.

The Scottish Green Party has called for a two year rent freeze to protect the most vulnerable tenants. The party’s housing spokesperson Andy Wightman accused the Scottish government of prioritising support for landlords in its failure to deliver such measures. He said:

it’s disappointing that the Scottish Government has prioritised support for landlords over support for tenants so far. That needs to change. A rent freeze must last for two years, to protect those tenants that are already in financial crisis.

Wightman continued:

Housing is a public health issue, and in this public health crisis the actions of government need to protect the most vulnerable, not widen inequalities.

Similar measures have been called for south of the border. Carla Denyer – the Green candidate in Bristol West in last year’s general election echoed demands made by Green Party of England and Wales co-leader Sian Berry last week. Denyer reiterated the party’s position that rent arrears should be forgiven and an extension of the current ban on eviction proceedings. She said:

The Greens are calling for rent arrears to be forgiven, increased benefits to help tenants cover rent, extending the current ban on eviction proceedings, and an immediate end to no-fault evictions. In the longer term, the Green Party wants to bring in rent controls and more affordable housing.

Caroline Lucas joins cross party group of MPs calling for Brexit deadline extension

Caroline Lucas
Image credit:  GPEW – Creative Commons

Despite falling off the radar since the onset of the coronavirus crisis, the clock is still ticking for the UK government and the European Union to reach an agreement on their relationship after the current transition period. And this week a group of MPs from a number of opposition parties including the SDLP, the SNP and Plaid Cymru wrote to the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier to extend the timetable for these talks. Green MP Caroline Lucas was among those to write to Barnier.

Writing to Barnier, the MPs said:

It is now in all of our common interests to agree and secure an extension to the transition period. This will enable these detailed and defining negotiations to be conducted at a time when, we hope, the efforts of national governments and the European Union will not be engaged solely with dealing with the dreadful Covid-19 epidemic.

Clare Bailey joins calls for testing of factory workers

Clare Bailey
Image credit: Creative Commons: Northern Ireland Assembly

An effective test and trace strategy is thought to be crucial to the battle against coronavirus. And this week, Green Party in Northern Ireland leader Clare Bailey added her voice to the calls for testing to be introduced in factories.

Speaking on the issue, Bailey said:

I support the call for Covid-19 tests for workers in factories and food processing plants.

These businesses often employ large numbers of people on factory floors and we know that several food processing plants struggled to implement basic social distancing at the start of this pandemic.

Bailey continued:

Businesses must do everything they can to reduce Covid-19 infection rates amongst workers and the potential for more deaths.

If that means testing workers, then testing should be implemented as a matter of urgency.