LGBT+ ADVOCATES CALL ON PEERS TO PROTECT PROTEST AND SAFEGUARD FIGHT FOR EQUALITY
Posted on 17 Jan 2022
- Politicians and celebrities including Olly Alexander and Munroe Bergdorf speak out to protect protest
- Progress toward equality under threat if Policing Bill passes
- Letter urges Peers to protect protest in key vote next week
A coalition of more than 80 activists, political figures and celebrities have called on members of the House of Lords to uphold protest rights and protect the progress made toward LGBT+ equality.
In a letter coordinated by Liberty and sent last Thursday, 13 January, LGBT+ advocates ranging from Lady Phyll and Peter Tatchell to Olly Alexander and Munroe Bergdorf urged Peers to vote against the Government’s planned protest crackdown today.
This evening, Monday 17 January, the House of Lords will vote on the sweeping array of protest restrictions in the Government’s Policing Bill and the late amendments to the Bill.
In the letter, signatories write that through protest, in various forms, the long fight for greater equality for LGBT+ people has made progress, and warn the Bill could “roll back the tide of the hard won rights we’ve been so successful in securing.”
The letter goes on:
Pride is a protest. From the very first brick thrown at the famous Stonewall Inn, to the annual parades held during the UK’s warmest months, pride reminds everyone everywhere that LGBT+ people’s existence is political, and that we’ve had to fight to be visible, have our needs taken seriously, and be treated equally.
Were it not for the tireless campaigning of LGBT+ activists who took part in visible and vocal actions, many of us would not be able to stand today as free and equal members of society.
Were the Bill in place when we were campaigning for those rights, we have no doubt that these powers would have been used to silence our pleas for justice and equality, and our work as campaigners, continuing to demand justice for LGBT+ communities throughout this country, would have been stifled.
We are deeply concerned that these powers may be used to justify any future restrictions on our demands for diversity, inclusion and equal treatment.
Grey Collier, Advocacy Director at Liberty, said: “Protest is not a gift from the State, it’s a fundamental right – one that has been a crucial tool for demanding positive change for LGBT+ people among many others.
“When protest is under threat, it is the most marginalised people in our communities whose rights and freedoms are put at risk. The Bill also contains new police powers that will impose more surveillance and control over minoritised communities, particularly Black men. It risks criminalising the way of life of Gypsies and Travellers, and erodes the ability of all of us – but particularly those communities already most cut off from the corridors of power – to stand up for our rights.
“Members of the House of Lords who value democracy and equality cannot ignore the rising chorus of opposition, nor the increasing evidence of the injustice this Bill will create. It must be scrapped.”
The Policing Bill was published in March 2021 containing dangerous powers to stifle protest, including giving police authority to shut down protests that become too “noisy”, “disruptive” or cause “unease.” The Bill triggered widespread protests, led by campaign group Sisters Uncut, which caused its progress to be delayed. In November the Government added even more provisions aimed at stifling protest rights, including criminal penalties for a range of activity, and new “protest banning orders” allowing police to target activists.
The Policing Bill has caused widespread outrage and a growing groundswell of objection to the Government’s dangerous proposals, including:
- Nearly 800,000 people signed a petition against the Bill coordinated between human rights groups, environmentalists, Gypsy, Roma and Traveller advocates and other charities.
- Over 350 charities signed a letter calling for the Bill to be scrapped.
- Over 700 academics called for the Bill to be dropped.
- Three UN Special Rapporteurs warned the Bill threatens our rights.
- Polling found nearly two thirds of the public are concerned about the protest crackdown.
- Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights said its proposals are “oppressive and wrong”.
- Over 600 health and social care professionals warned that new policing provisions would require them to breach confidentiality and put young people’s safety at risk.
Liberty has also warned that the Bill is one part of a larger campaign by the Government to remove itself from accountability and undermine everyone’s ability to stand up to power.
Contact the Liberty press office on 07973 831 128 or email@example.com
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