Ashley Halstead previews the LGBTQ+ Co-operators Policy Document, which was released this morning. You can read the document here.
For Pride Month, LGBTQ+ Co-operators are launching our new policy document with a wide range of policies covering a wide variety of modern life. Recently, the LGBTQ+ community have had our rights undermined, whilst facing a rapid increase in hate crimes against the community. LGBTQ+ Co-operators are hoping to get this document implemented as Co-operative Party policy at the October conference this year; in order to do this, we need all the support possible. If you are a Co-operative member, please reach out to your conference delegates and ask them to back our policy document. Small actions such as liking and sharing our content on Facebook and Twitter will help us get some key coverage and support for our policies.
Our policies are far-reaching, including many which significantly affect young LGBTQ+ people. For example, we believe it is vital that each school has an LGBTQ+ Lead, similar to those in the Co-operative Academy chain. This step would allow for young LGBTQ+ people to have a safe person to talk to at school, where they can ask any questions and raise instances of homophobic, biphobic or transphobic (HBT) bullying. Furthermore, having an LGBTQ+Lead in schools creates a facilitator and signposter for LGBTQ+ youth services in the school and/or in the local area. We hope this will lead to a massive reduction in HBT bullying and improve the mental health of LGBTQ+ young people.
We are acutely aware of the immense difficulties of being closeted at home, especially if in care, and the risk of domestic abuse for being LGBTQ+. Which is why councils with oversight of child residential homes need to ensure that information and training is given to carers to ensure LGBTQ+ youth are given the support and signposting to local services they need. This training should not stop there, and with the recruitment of an LGBTQ+ Lead in schools (as outlined above) signs of domestic abuse can be spotted much sooner and dealt with appropriately. Many LGBTQ+ young people do not come out or speak out about abuse due to fear of homelessness, it is important services like AKT are supported to ensure every LGBTQ+ young person who needs shelter and support gets it.
LGBTQ+ Parentage is a key policy area in the document. Currently the process for becoming a parent in the LGBTQ+ community is difficult and costly, forcing people to use back alley methods. This particularly affects younger LGBTQ+ adults who are looking to settle down and start a family. The cost of surrogacy can be between £20,000 and £60,000, which is simply unaffordable for a vast majority of young adults. We have seen this result in many young gay men using Facebook groups in order to find surrogates; which is a wholly unsafe practice for surrogate and intended parents. Further, the intended parents have to apply for a parental order after the child is born, instead of before the birth, which adds extra pressure to the already stressful time of having a new born baby to care for.
Where Trans & Non-Binary Rights are concerned, it is vital that the Gender Recognition Act is implemented as per the 2017 consultation. The legislation has been delayed long enough, much like the ban on Conversion Therapy; a ban which simply must be Trans and Non-Binary inclusive. It is an insult to the community that the Government is allowing transphobia and Evangelical claptrap to lead the way on policy, choosing to give preference to the LGB Alliance and the Evangelical Alliance ahead of Stonewall, the British Psychoanalytic Council, the Church of England, the NHS, and countless other professional medical, religious, charitable and educational organisations, which support the above policies. Finally, we propose additional funding of Gender Identity Clinics (GIC) and the promotion of this area of medicine as a viable and exciting career path for medical students to undertake. The guidance for the waiting time for a GIC appointment is 18 weeks and every effort should be made to ensure this deadline is met. This includes empowering GPs to make prescriptions usually undertaken by GICs and the use of technology to allow for virtual meetings where appropriate. Virtual meetings would incentivise doctors with less lengthy commutes and allow anyone with mobility issues, or live rurally, to still fully access the GIC services.
Ashley Halstead is the Chair & Policy Officer of LGBTQ+ Co-operators. He tweets at @Ashley_Halstead.