MPs and Peers form new group to champion LGBT rights around the world
A group of MPs and Peers from across all the major political parties this week agreed to establish a parliamentary group to advance LGBT rights around the world. The newly formed All-Party Parliamentary Group on Global LGBT Rights (APPG LGBT) is the first of its kind and will work in the UK Parliament to promote its agenda.
The group takes on the work of the Parliamentary Friends of the Kaleidoscope Trust, chaired by Crispin Blunt MP (Conservative – Reigate). It will provide a forum for parliamentarians and organisations across the public, private and third sector to work together to champion LGBT rights.
The group will principally focus on international LBGT rights but has agreed to include domestic issues within its remit.
At the group's inaugural meeting, Nick Herbert MP (Conservative – Arundel & South Downs) was unanimously elected to act as the group’s chair. Mr Herbert recently led the successful Freedom to Marry campaign which helped to secure equal marriage in England and Wales.
Nick Herbert said: “I am delighted to have been elected Chair of the APPG on Global LGBT Rights and I look forward to working closely with my fellow parliamentarians on these issues.
“While the advance of LGBT rights in many countries has been remarkable, as today’s decision of the Supreme Court in the US testifies, elsewhere in the world we are seeing discrimination and abuses which are of real concern.
“The power of this group is that is cross-party and will work closely with interested NGOs. I hope that it will help to ensure that, when breaches of LGBT rights occur around the world, UK parliamentarians respond in the most coordinated and effective manner possible.
“I would also like to put on record my gratitude to Crispin Blunt and the Kaleidoscope Trust for providing the foundations for this group, and I look forward to continuing their good work.”
A number of NGOs and civil society organisations, including the Kaleidoscope Trust, the Human Dignity Trust and Stonewall were present at the meeting on Tuesday and welcomed the formation of the group, agreeing to work closely with it. Over the coming weeks officers of the APPG will consult with civil society to develop a comprehensive workplan for the group over the next year.
MPs and Peers also elected a number of vice-chairs to reflect the cross-party nature of the group: Lord (Michael) Cashman, Labour’s Envoy on LGBT Rights, Stewart McDonald MP (SNP - Glasgow South), Baroness (Liz) Barker (Liberal Democrat) and Caroline Lucas MP (Green - Brighton Pavilion). Lord (Ray) Collins of Highbury (Labour) was elected Treasurer and Ben Howlett MP (Conservative – Bath) Secretary.
Lord Cashman said: “The APPG will give us a unique opportunity to share our skills to ensure that LGBT people both in the United Kingdom and internationally enjoy the same rights wherever they are born and wherever they live. Working with local activists in other countries and in the UK we can ensure that the universality of human rights becomes a reality.”
Stewart McDonald MP said: "I am very pleased to have been elected as vice chair of the APPG on Global LGBT Rights. This group has been founded at a crucial time. Although in the UK LGBT rights have advanced rapidly in recent years, the opposite is true in many other countries around the world.
“I look forward to working with colleagues across the House to put our commitment to promote LGBT rights internationally into practice.”
Baroness Barker said: “The APPG is uniquely placed to bring together governments, civil society and businesses to build strong, safe communities in which all citizens, including those who are LGBTI, prosper. Let’s get started.”
Caroline Lucas MP said: “There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in advancing LGBT rights across the world, and it’s good to see parliamentarians coming together on such a crucial issue.
“I hope that this all party group can hold the Government to account where necessary to ensure that British foreign policy, and our rules on immigration, promote the wellbeing of LGBT people across the world.”
Philippa Drew, on behalf of the Doughty Street Group of NGOs concerned with the persecution of LGBT people around the world, said: “It is good to have this cross party support for the promotion and protection of LGBT rights around the world. We look forward to engaging with and contributing to the APPG's work.”
NOTES FOR EDITORS
APPGs are cross-party groups that are distinct from parliamentary select committees. Select committees have a formal role in scrutinising government departments, while APPGs can be set up to focus on specific issues by Members of the Commons and Lords, often involving individuals and organisations from outside Parliament in their administration and activities. They do not receive any public funding.
Groups that register as APPGs have to conform to rules about cross-party membership and transparency about their activities and funding.