The Conservative Party has secured an overwhelming majority with 365 seats as shown by the results of the UK general election. This victory signifies a dangerous turning point for British politics with long-lasting consequences for the LGBT+ community in England and Ireland.
Boris Johnson will return to his position as British Prime Minister and is believed to be set for another five years in term. The Labour Party faced a startling defeat, claiming 203 seats, and Jeremy Corbyn is now facing pressure from his own party to stand down.
In Northern Ireland, the DUP received a resounding defeat in the elections as the party will no longer have a majority of the 18 seats in Westminster for the first time. After the results, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has cautioned against ideas of a united Ireland, as reported in the Irish Times, “I think people shouldn’t race ahead of themselves with other plans. What we need to do is get Stormont, get the assembly, get the executive working again. We need to be able to work together in Northern Ireland, and between Northern Ireland and Ireland, and that philosophy underpinning the Good Friday Agreement is as relevant today as it was 30 years ago.”
Northern Ireland has recently celebrated the passing of marriage equality and abortion rights after the devolved Northern Ireland Executive failed to be re-established by October 21, 2o19. The first same-sex weddings are set for Valentine’s Day 2020.
In 2010, Johnson as Mayor of London voiced his support for marriage equality in Britain. Despite being the highest-ranking Conservative to show their support, a series of columns surfaced in which he wrote about “tank topped b*mboys” and slandered the Labour Party for “encouraging the teaching of homosexuality in schools.” Looking back on his past actions and statements, his party’s weak commitment to LGBT+ rights is a worrying indication of what is to come.
The landslide victory for the Conservative Party has been attributed to the clarity of their manifesto as Johnson doubled down on his stance to “get Brexit done.” However, queer rights were only mentioned three times in the 59 page document, promising to “help teachers tackle [homophobic] bullying”, continue tackling LGBT+ hate crimes and form an international “LGBT conference”.
With the Conservative Party manifesto, there is no mention of tackling bullying suffered by transgender people and other queer identities in schools. One activist took to Twitter to further highlight what issues the document does not address: “GRA reform, Recognition of non-binary people, SRE/PSHE, Blood donations, PrEP, LGBT+ asylum-seekers.”
Borris has been firm in his stance throughout the UK general election that he would only focus on services such as the NHS, schools, and police. However, while his focus is turned away, both cuts and the privatisation of these sectors greatly impacts people’s livelihood.
In October 2019, a survey by the Health Service Journal revealed that 93% of NHS trusts are falling drastically, lacking 10% of the nurses they need. As the health sectors are left to the wayside, people depending upon both employment and crucial services for their wellbeing are overlooked.
Transgender people in Ireland will also be greatly affected by the depleting resources of the NHS. In 2018, Minister for Health, Simon Harris, said the HSE may adopt international standards for trans access to hormone treatment however changes to policy have been stagnating and insufficient. Due to the current Irish healthcare system, many trans people have been forced to travel abroad to the UK for their hormone treatment and the Conservative Party’s victory deals a great blow to accessing this vital service.
In response to the election results, Noah Halpin of This Is Me – Transgender Healthcare Campaign, released a statement to GCN:
“The results of the UK elections brings with it a sense of fear for the trans community trying to lead normal and happy lives UK, this is a devastating blow. With Conservative party members actively feeding into the transphobic narrative that’s been gripping the UK of late, trans people are afraid and uncertain of their future within their own country.
“The trans community in Ireland must also keep a close eye on the UK’s current affairs. With UK based clinic Tavistock, being the only source providing treatment to trans children and adolescents in Ireland.
“As well as the majority of gender affirmation surgeries for the Irish trans community being carried out in the UK as a result of a decades-old agreement between the two countries and their health services.
“Now more than ever, we need to get clarification on what the impact of Brexit will mean for us, at the same time as reaching out to members of the trans community in the UK who are now undoubtedly feeling fear and uncertainty also”
Following the results of the UK general election, one Twitter user said, “We keep fighting. We keep fighting for our NHS. For the most vulnerable, for the people who are hanging on by a thread. We keep fighting for them all. I’ll keep fighting for my community. I’m so sorry things didn’t go in our favour.”
If any LGBTQ+ person wants to funnel their anger and heartbreak and disappointment into action, help us set up @LdnLGBTQCentre. We’re kicking things back into gear now the election is over. Hopefully a sliver of light in the dark, and it’ll be ours. Stay tuned.
— Sarah #VoteLabour (@sarahmoorexo) December 12, 2019
The Twitter user also raised awareness of the development of a London LGBT+ Centre. They stated, “If any LGBTQ+ person wants to funnel their anger and heartbreak and disappointment into action, help us set up @LdnLGBTQCentre. We’re kicking things back into gear now the election is over. Hopefully a sliver of light in the dark, and it’ll be ours.”
After the election results, many people have been left feeling disheartened and outraged at the current political situation. This is a turning point as they face a reality where they have been cut off from fundamental care services. One Twitter user said, “Feeling deeply depressed for the sick, disabled, working class, poor, homeless, queer, immigrants, and people of colour in the UK who’ve just been thrown under the bus by their own communities. I can’t imagine how this must feel.”
Feeling deeply depressed for the sick, disabled, working class, poor, homeless, queer, immigrants, and people of colour in the UK who’ve just been thrown under the bus by their own communities. I can’t imagine how this must feel.
— Aifric (@aifreckle) December 12, 2019
Despite the impact a Conservative majority will have upon the LGBT+ community, many queer people openly voted for Tory and have receive widespread backlash online.
Don't let me catch y'all gassing this guy up after he voted for the conservative party. pic.twitter.com/pW9NVMJdrb
— Sludge Bomb (@red__potions) December 12, 2019
The LGBT+ community won small victories throughout the UK general election. Brexit Party’s Anne Widdecome lost to openly gay Remain MP Luke Polllard with a vote of 2,909 for Widdecome and 25,461 votes for Pollard. In Scotland, the SNP dominated the votes and saw all seven of their LGBT+ candidates win re-election.
On Twitter, one user wrote, “It might not be great news overall, but it’s very good to hear Ann Widdecombe lost her bid to a gay remainer. Anti inclusive education campaigner Roger Godsiff also lost his seat and the DUP lost two in NI. Some small but important wins for the LGBT+ community.”
It might not be great news overall, but it’s very good to hear Ann Widdecombe lost her bid to a gay remainer. Anti inclusive education campaigner Roger Godsiff also lost his seat and the DUP lost two in NI. Some small but important wins for the #LGBTQ+ community #GE2019
— Tom Knight (@TJ_Knight) December 13, 2019
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