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“FUNDAMENTAL” rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people could be eroded if they are not adopted into British law post-Brexit, transport workers warned this weekend.
Rail union RMT’s LGBT+ conference called for “urgent steps” to ensure protections currently included in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights “will be enshrined in British law once the UK leaves the EU.”
A motion passed at the conference slammed the British government’s “dark and shameful history of persecuting LGBT+ people.”
Moving the motion, Central Line East delegate Paul Penny said: “In February 2018 the House of Commons actually voted to reject the EU charter of fundamental rights.
“It was only when it went to the House of Lords that they actually reversed that. But if the country leaves the EU then anything can actually happen.”
He said the charter was “the only legally binding international human rights document” which adequately addressed LGBT+ rights.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission has said that the loss of the charter would “create significant gaps in substantive rights, because it includes rights that do not have direct equivalents in other UK human rights law.”
The motion passed at the conference drew attention to the deportation of asylum-seekers and the imposition of homophobic laws under British colonial rule.
Mr Penny added: “We know from the past that the state has not been our friend. It hasn’t been — it’s often been our enemy.
“We should never take our rights and freedoms for granted. At a time when there is an upsurge of far-right politics across Europe and across the world, and with the prospect of people like Boris Johnson becoming more powerful at government level, we have to really fight.”
Quoting the French philosopher Voltaire, he concluded: “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
Waterloo delegate Laurence Coles said: “If we get rid of that it will mean that the Tories can put in whatever they like.”
Addressing the conference on Friday, RMT general secretary Mick Cash argued trade unions had a crucial role in combating prejudice.
“We’ve got to defeat the politics of hate,” he said. “We’ve seen it since Brexit and how it’s been distorted and how it’s divided our class.
“People are being divided now into leavers and remainers. No, we’re one class. Our enemy is those who seek to exploit us.”
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