On May 6, Londoners will select their Mayor for the next four years. This election was due to take place last year but was postponed because of the pandemic. With campaign mode now in full swing, Jason Reid spoke to the candidates from the four main political parties to find out where they stand on LGBTQ+ issues.
How will you make London safer for LGBTQ+ people?
Sadiq Khan (Labour): I stand in total solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community, many of whom suffer appalling abuse and violence. Homophobic hate crime has risen nationally since 2016 and this is unacceptable. There is no place in our city for homophobic, biphobic or transphobic hate crime and I will continue to work hand in hand with the Metropolitan police to stamp it out.
As Mayor I have invested a record £6million tackling hate crime, including funding for Galop, a charity that provides specialised support around the issues of LGBTQ+ policing. But this support can’t just come from me at City Hall. The Government needs to step up and do their bit as well.
It is also vital that LGBTQ+ Londoners have places where they can feel free to be themselves and, throughout my Mayoralty, I’ve worked hard to protect LGBTQ+ spaces. Just last month, I provided a £5.7million loan to Tonic Housing which will be used to establish the UK’s first LGBTQ+ retirement community – a place for older Londoners to champion and support one another in their golden years.
HIV continues to affect the lives of too many Londoners which is why I signed us up to the Fast-Track cities initiative. I firmly believe we can achieve our target of having no new infections in the city by 2030 and I am campaigning for PrEP to be made available free on the NHS to all those who need it.
I have pledged to be a Mayor for all Londoners and will continue to urge the government to introduce comprehensive sex and relationships education to help all children understand that same-sex relationships and LGBTQ+ people are a part of everyday life.
But I know there is still work to be done. In London as in the rest of the UK, young LGBTQ+ people are disproportionately likely to face homelessness, that is why this year my Winter Rough Sleeping Campaign is supporting The Albert Kennedy Trust which works specifically to support LGBTQ+ youth in gaining skills and finding safe places to call home. Who you are and who you love should have no bearing on your life chances.
Shaun Bailey (Conservatives): London’s success isn’t just down to the skyscrapers in the City or the tech wizards in Shoreditch. London’s success is down to our diversity — the fact that we are home to people of all backgrounds, colours and sexualities.
But that doesn’t mean we’re getting everything right. Over the last 12 months, there have been 2,835 hate crimes against gay people in London.
That’s an increase of 51% since Sadiq Khan became Mayor. Even worse, the vast majority of those who experienced LGBTQ+ hate crime didn’t report it to the police.
We can’t go on like this. We need a fresh start. After all, London only works if Londoners feel safe being themselves.
So as Mayor, I’ll hire 8,000 extra police officers and reopen the 38 police stations closed by Sadiq Khan.
This will not only help to prevent hate crime, it will also make it easier for victims to report hate crime. Together, we can make this city safer for the LGBTQ+ community.
Luisa Porritt (Liberal Democrats): There are two ways the Mayor can tackle this – both through leadership and policy.
First, on leadership. I will continue to be a proud ally to the LGBTQ+ community, as I always have been as a friend, a councillor and an MEP. As Mayor, I would celebrate London as one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly cities on the planet.
That means working with voluntary organisations across the capital to deliver Pride events such as UK Black Pride and Pride in London, celebrating LGBTQ+ arts and business through the Mayor’s Office, keeping LGBTQ+ rights on the public agenda, supporting a bustling nightlife scene and the LGBTQ+ focused voluntary and community sector too.
I am unequivocal: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights, trans rights are human rights.
On the policy side, it’s about making sure our police force is responsive to LGBTQ+ communities’ needs and builds trust so that people feel they will be taken seriously if they come forward.
Every borough needs an LGBTQ+ Forum to hold local police forces to account. Reporting a hate crime needs to be easy, and people need to know how to do it. Hate crime reports must be taken seriously and we need to support victims to get their cases all the way to court too.
Sian Berry (Green Party): We have to improve confidence in reporting. London has an extensive network of CCTV on public transport, but there’s often a limited window to get hold of that footage.
We have to make it as easy as possible to report a hate crime and we have to make sure that the process is handled well.
Galop run a hate crime helpline, specifically tailored for the LGBTQ+ community. When many struggle with trusting the police – I think it’s vital we boost awareness of a service like Galop and their 020 7704 2040 number.
Finally, social media companies have to take more responsibility. They’ve made hate crimes something you can do with a few clicks. Moderation clearly isn’t working when you have the far right openly organising on your platform.
Greens have a great track record of challenging these social media giants, particularly at the European Parliament.
Join us again tomorrow for answers to the question: ‘How do you plan to address the increasing hostility towards trans people?’