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LGBTQ+ kids from the Mighty Redcar need a People’s Vote now

by Luke Myer | 05.10.2018

Imagine being six foot tall, queer, skinny, ginger, and not being David Bowie. I’m no stranger to sticking out. But recently, my hometown – the mighty Redcar – has been in the spotlight too.

Around the empty steelworks and boarded-up shop fronts are hundreds of lost and lonely young people. And anyone watching The Mighty Redcar, the BBC’s “real-life soap opera” about disadvantaged youth on Teesside, can guess what it was like growing up LGBTQ+ there under Section 28.

That isolation has worsened since Brexit: homophobic hate crime on Teesside has increased by more than a quarter since the referendum. And with less than 200 days before we leave without a meaningful deal, any hope that it could somehow be worth it for young LGBTQ+ people has evaporated.

The EU has played a crucial role in protecting LGBTQ+ rights, and working to replace it hasn’t been on the government’s agenda. The EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights, for instance, is the only international human rights legislation expressly protecting us from discrimination. It acted as a catalyst for Labour to begin dismantling LGBTQ+ inequalities, and then for marriage equality in Scotland, England and Wales. While the Charter was being adopted in 2000, the UK were still enforcing Section 28 in my school. In the same year, Boris Johnson was likening same-sex marriage to marrying “a dog”.

Some Brexiters claim we won’t go backwards on LGBTQ+ rights. But you only have to look to the US and their new establishment to realise that none of our rights can be taken for granted. When EU negotiators asked the UK to agree to a legally-binding promise not to diminish human rights protections, Theresa May refused.

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It’s why I’m proud to see the launch of LGBT+ for a People’s Vote this weekend. Many of us will be taking part in the Party for a People’s Vote this Saturday, in LGBTQ+ spaces across the country. (And of course, everybody’s welcome!)

Like the LGBTQ+ community, the overwhelming majority of young people back a People’s Vote. We started For our Future’s Sake to get organised, and take action. And we should be blindingly, achingly furious about this government’s hopelessness on Brexit.

Young people on Teesside are desperate for change. Many of them voted Leave in 2016, for all kinds of reasons – the pressure of austerity, the collapse of the steel industry, youth unemployment double the national average. But politicians in Westminster have chosen to squabble and delay rather than stand up for us. The result is a Brexit that will weaken our rights, and expose us to hatred and intolerance.

So young people are standing up – and calling on Labour, the opposition party, the party of equality, to join us. Labour’s conference last week in Liverpool was a crucial moment for queer kids like me in Redcar. As they debated whether to support a cause backed by major unions and 90% of the membership, on Teesside and beyond, we waited, and watched. Keir Starmer’s magnificent speech – especially his off the cuff “nobody is ruling out remain as an option” remark – gave us all hope.

Campaigns like For our Future’s Sake and LGBT+ for a People’s Vote give us direction for our fear. Now we have to turn those emotions into tangible action, and win a People’s Vote.

Luke Myer is a Labour member and works for For our Future’s Sake, a youth campaign for a People’s Vote.

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    Edited by Luke Lythgoe

    One Response to “LGBTQ+ kids from the Mighty Redcar need a People’s Vote now”

    • It is on people like Luke in places like Mighty Redcar that we should be spending £39 billion or whatever it is – and also the 2.5% of GDP that we are losing as a result of a small faction in the Tory party.
      We must not let them steal our country or the future of our young people.

      And I won’t add my views on Johnson and the things he has said as the moderator would quite rightly remove them.