Adam Long, Advocacy and Communications, National LGBT Federation, shares the NXF election manifesto.
The National LGBT Federation (NXF) have published our Election 2020 Manifesto, outlining the key issues that need to be taken up by the new incoming Dail and government following Saturday’s General Election.
It is undoubtedly the case that Ireland has made significant progress on LGBT+ rights in recent years but there is still much to achieve, both on the legislative front and also in terms of broader cultural change. Our Manifesto lists 10 key policy changes that would help to transform the equality landscape for LGBT+ in Ireland and we are calling on all political parties to endorse our proposals.
The pressing need to legislate for Hate Crime, and to significantly strengthen existing provisions around Hate Speech, is one of the priority areas outlined in our Manifesto. Indeed it has been a key issue for the NXF since 2016, when our Burning Issues 2report – the largest body of research into the views and priorities of LGBT+ people in Ireland up to that point – revealed Hate Crime to be the leading concern for our community post-marriage equality.
In the years since, we have seen an increasing normalisation of hate and bigotry across the globe. Divisive international events such as the election of Donald Trump in the US and Brexit in the UK have served to embolden right-wing extremists, who actively target the rights of LGBT+ people among other minority communities.
While we here in Ireland have thankfully avoided the kind of far-right gains seen elsewhere, it would be naïve to think that we are somehow immune to what is a fraught global backdrop. We are in fact currently experiencing a hugely disturbing rise in anti-LGBT+ Hate Crime, the latest victim being beaten and stabbed during a horrific homophobic attack in a Kildare Train Station.
Enacting a robust LGBT+ inclusive Hate Crime law is now more urgent than ever and must absolutely be a priority issue for whoever forms the new government. Meanwhile, existing legislation in the separate but related area of ‘Incitement to Hatred’ has proven to be almost entirely toothless and we are calling for the legislation to be significantly amended. In specific terms, this means reducing the threshold of proof (currently almost impossible to reach) to make it much easier to target dangerous and unacceptable hate in our society.
Another crucially important topic outlined in our Manifesto is the whole area of Education Equality. Put simply, too many LGBT+ young people are enduring a school system where their innate identities are either rendered invisible, or worse, subject to hostility and opposition. This is facilitated by the sweeping equality opt-out contained in the 1998 Education Act, which expressly allows schools to teach a curriculum that reflects their ‘characteristic spirit’.
This means any school, under the guise of ‘religious ethos’, can choose to censor LGBT+ and other important content. No state-funded school should be allowed to discriminate in this manner but under an (archaic and outdated) patronage system where over 90% of schools adhere to the ‘ethos’ of a religious institution that continues to employ highly toxic language to describe LGBT+ people and our lives, the real-world consequences of such a provision become all too obvious.
The NXF is therefore calling on the incoming government to implement the very positive and progressive recommendations contained in a report issued by the All-Party Oireachtas Committee on Education, calling for a fully LGBT+ inclusive curriculum to be made mandatory in all schools, regardless of ‘ethos’. It is time the right of LGBT+ and indeed all young people to an affirming and inclusive school environment became the priority in this area. The recently published BeLonG Toresearch, which revealed that 73% of LGBT+ youth feel unsafe in school, should also serve as a clear impetus for change and reform.
NXF Election Manifesto
We have today published our Manifesto for #GE2020, outlining the key issues that must be advanced by the new, incoming Govt in order to further advance #LGBT equality. We call on all parties to endorse. @GCNmag #VoteWithPride ?️? pic.twitter.com/w9iZHwlKeg
— NXF (@nxfie) February 5, 2020
In addition to the big ticket items of Hate Crime/HateSpeech and Education Equality, there are a number of other legislative changes we are calling for, including a ban on the dangerous and discredited practice known as so-called ‘gay conversion therapy’, an end to the discriminatory rules that govern blood donation for gay, bisexual and MSM (Men who have sex with Men), better supports for LGBT+ asylum seekers, improved Gender Recognition legislation, mandatory equality and diversity training across the public sector, and the proactive use of Irish foreign policy as an instrument to support persecuted global LGBT+ communities.
Finally, we would urge every LGBT+ voter and ally to #VoteWithPride on Saturday and help elect a government and a Dáil (Parliament) that is firmly committed to advancing our equality goals. A large body of work awaits whoever takes power after February 8 and the NXF will not be found wanting in helping ensure that LGBT+ issues remain firmly on the political radar.
© 2020 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.
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