First Published: May 2016
       This is an OutUK Archive Item and so some of the links and information may be out of date.

Ahead of the June 23rd referendum which will decide whether Britain stays in the European Union, more than 250 of Britain’s best-known actors, artists, musicians and writers including Benedict Cumberbatch and Paloma Faith are warning that if the UK leaves the EU it would become 'an outsider shouting from the wings'.

Sir Ian McKellen supports the campaign to remain because of the EU's pivotal role in protecting LGBTI rights for UK citizens.

“The European Union has played a crucial role in promoting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex rights to legal equality in Britain, across Europe and around the world. The EU’s guidelines for supporting human rights call for measures to end discrimination against all LGBTI people. The EU funds local groups who are campaigning against homophobic and transphobic violence – many of them at great personal risk.”

30 LGBTI MPs and members of the House of Lords have also signed a cross-party letter calling for Britain to remain in the EU in order to protect LGBTI rights.

Angela Crawley MP
Angela Eagle MP
Ben Howlett MP
Ben Bradshaw MP
Chris Bryant MP
David Mundell MP
Gerald Jones MP
Gordon Marsden MP
Hannah Bardell MP
Joanna Cherry MP
John Nicolson MP
Margot James MP
Martin Docherty – Hughes MP
Mike Freer MP
Nia Griffith MP

Nick Boles MP
Nick Herbert MP
Stephen Doughty MP
Steve Reed MP
Stephen Twigg MP
Stewart McDonald MP
Peter Kyle MP
Wes Streeting MP
Baroness Elizabeth Barker
Lord Guy Black
Lord Michael Cashman
Lord Ray Collins
Baroness Jenny Hilton
Lord Jonathan Oates
Lord Brian Paddick

The TUC is warning that if the UK leaves the EU then some LGBTI rights which are protected under EU Law could be under threat:

"Many people think LGBTI rights are safe in the UK, especially since the Conservative Party has shifted from a position of introducing section 28 banning the 'promotion' of homosexuality to legislating for same-sex marriage. Complete repeal of the rights may be unlikely but changes could be made that undermine or narrow them.

For example, there have been attempts by some to restrict rights to equality for LGBTI people on the grounds of religion or belief. And successive UK governments have tried to curb workers’ rights to reduce 'burdens on business'.

The coalition government’s ‘Red Tape Challenge’ asked if the Equality Act 2010 (which brought together all the previous discrimination laws) should be scrapped. EU law helped defend most rights in the Act but the government still found bits to repeal that were not supported by EU law, like the questionnaires employees could use to ask their employer about potential discrimination."

The UK’s Sexual Orientation Regulations, introduced in 2003, are also based on an EU directive requiring equal treatment for LGB workers, and it was a European Court of Justice ruling that established that same-sex civil partners should have equal access to marital benefits.

"Brexit campaigners have made no secret of their radical agenda for deregulation," says TUC Equalities Officer Huma Munshi. ‘"To them it’s ‘red tape’, but to us it’s our right to equality, and our right to fair compensation if we suffer discrimination."

The Referendum takes place on Thursday 23rd June and you can find out all you need to know about registering to vote and how to vote by post or get a family member to vote on your behalf - a proxy vote - here.


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