Election Special

Purna Sen: Labour Party Parliamentary Candidate for Brighton Pavilion

May 1, 2015

Purna came to the UK from India in 1962, studied in state schools and taught in adult, community and further education.

Purna Sen: Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Brighton Pavilion
Purna Sen: Labour Parliamentary Candidate for Brighton Pavilion

SHE has worked for NGOs on violence against women and human rights and with asylum seekers and refugees.  She became single at the age of 40, with two teenage daughters.

Purna has been a Brighton resident for 6 years, is a trustee of Rise, which supports women dealing with violence, and a trustee and past chair of the Kaleidoscope Trust, supporting the rights of LGBT people internationally.

She was Director of Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific programme working across many countries, including in Nepal and Sri Lanka during armed conflict.

As Head of Human Rights at the Commonwealth Secretariat she advised governments at the highest levels, on human rights. This included talks with the Ugandan government on the Anti-Homosexuality (then-)Bill. She also sat on the Technical Advisory Group for the Global Commission for HIV and the Law and now work at the London School of Economics as Deputy Director of the Institute of Public Affairs.

This is the first time Purna has stood in an election.

Purna’s position on the Stonewall Equality Manifesto: To download Manifesto, click here:

“From my work on human rights and the rights of LGBT people in this country and internationally, I know just how important Stonewall’s Manifesto is for anyone able to influence public policy.

“There has undoubtedly been real progress since the grim days of Section 28, against which I campaigned when I was teaching and which restricted the work in my daughters’ school, where I was a governor. The last Labour government’s legislation on civil partnerships, the rights of transgender people, adoption rights and the age of consent were crucial in establishing the LGBT rights and changing public perception. The last government’s introduction of gay marriage was a sign of that national, and cultural, change.”

Statutory PSHE and Sex and Relationships Education for primary and secondary schools in England: I know only too well, including from local conversations, how important it is to continue this work, as Stonewall suggests. This must happen in our schools, through PSHE and Sex Relationship Education (SRE), and in wider society. I welcome Labour’s commitments on SRE.

Combatting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic hate crime: In my election material I have pledged to work for zero tolerance of hate crime against LGBT people as well as against BAME, disabled and faith communities. These are also important issues in Labour’s local election manifesto for May 7.

Reviewing the law affecting trans people: The last Labour MP for Brighton Pavilion, David Lepper, played a vital role with local organisations in lobbying Home Office ministers about the rights of trans people and that led to the Gender Recognition Act. But it is now time to review that legislation.

International Aid: From my international work I know the importance of initiatives to ensure aid promotes the rights of all, including LGBT people. At the time of last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow I was one of the keynote speakers at the conference organised by the Equality Network, the Kaleidoscope Trust, the Glasgow Human Rights Network and Pride Glasgow.  The event highlighted the legislation within Commonwealth countries which continues to criminalise LGBT people and the danger that continues in some places where the law has changed. Discrimination and danger exist beyond the Commonwealth, where the UK must support efforts for equality.

Purna’s position on the future Commissioning of Health Services and how that affects the Sussex Beacon:

“The Sussex Beacon is a unique organisation outside London, in supporting local people living with HIV/AIDS and their families, both in terms of inpatient care and in the community. The Beacon has funding from non-statutory sources, but I believe that its expertise, built up over many years, makes it irreplaceable as a partner in our local NHS and as a local MP I would certainly support efforts to ensure more secure, statutory funding.”

For a full list of candidates standing in Brighton Pavilion, click here: