The Green Party yesterday launched its LGBTIQ European manifesto in Brighton to warm applause and cheers.
The event, staged at the Bedford Tavern on Western Street, Brighton, was opened by the Greens' LGBT Group chair, Simon Williams, who recalled earlier days when the Greens were the first party to back equal marriage, at a time when the other parties regarded it as fantasy, and were the party of practical support for teachers trying to work under the yoke of Section 28.
Simon then introduced Keith Taylor MEP, who is standing to retain his seat on behalf of the Greens in the European parliament, and Alexandra Phillips, the Brighton & Hove councillor who is topped to become the second Green MEP for the South East of England.
Keith Taylor, who is a member of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights, spoke of the equalities work presently being done in Europe by the Greens, who form the fourth largest party in the European parliament and have been able to exert real influence on the furthering of equalities across Europe.
Keith said: "As part of the European Parliament’s LGBT Rights Intergroup I have worked towards a world free from homophobic prejudice and will continue to do so if re-elected. Candidates must stand in solidarity with the struggles of all LGBTI people; we must continue to fight for equality across the world, whilst not forgetting the continued discrimination and prejudice faced by many."
Alexandra Phillips name-checked campaigner and Green Party activist Peter Tatchell for his work on the European and national stages, then spoke of some of the work still to be done.
She said: "The UK may be leading the world when it comes to equal marriage but there are still areas of real inequality that need to be tackled, such as pension rights for same sex couples and blood transfusion rights for gay men. And the UK's equal marriages – even though they are fully legal in this country - are not recognised across all the countries of Europe. If elected I will be fighting for proper recognition of all marriages. As our manifesto says, full rights for LGBTIQ citizens should be a condition of EU membership."
She continued: "The Green Party is the only party that has been at the forefront of equality issues. We have stuck to our principles even when they were deeply controversial. The grey parties may now have followed our lead on equal marriage and, given time, they may follow again on the things we're saying today. But it will be too little, too late, as ever. Only the Greens will always take the bold initiative when it comes to equality."
Both Keith Taylor and Alexandra Phillips are signatories to the ILGAs ‘Come Out’ campaign, which is focused on the European Elections. The ILGA Europe is the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, who work to ensure human rights and equality for LGBTI people across Europe.
The Greens' LGBTIQ European manifesto can be downloaded at http://s.coop/1udis .