Our group was formed in early 2012 when two dedicated members of the Hull City Labour Party approached the Hull University Labour Club about establishing a Hull and East Riding-based campaigning group on LGBT issues. Pretty soon afterwards, the Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network was set up. Its inaugural meeting at Hull University was attended by local MPs, councillors and activists from across the City of Hull alongside students from Hull University itself. We continue to operate as a joint City/University venture, and our members come from a range of backgrounds and variety of professions ranging from university students to bus drivers, city councillors and retired teachers. We’re fortunate to operate in a city with such a fantastic level of enthusiasm from residents and students, and in a constituency with such a dedicated and committed MP as Diana Johnson.
As a Labour Party-based group, we’re proud of our party’s excellent achievements in LGBT rights. So many of the extensions of gay rights in Britain – from the initial decriminalisation of homosexuality, to including homophobia as a hate crime, ending workplace discrimination and giving LGBT couples the right to adopt – have occurred under Labour governments.
It is easy to forget that LGBT people in the 1990s still had to put up with a higher age of sexual consent and the disgrace of section 28 and had no way to affirm in law their adoration for the same-sex person they loved. Even in Humberside itself, it was the Hull University Socialist Society which, in the 1960s, submitted a motion to the National Organisation of Labour Student Organisations (NALSO) supporting the decriminalisation of homosexuality. We want to follow on from our party’s fantastic tradition of committed campaigning for gay rights.
However, we are determined to run positive, issues-based campaigns which unite all parties based on common concerns rather than divide us needlessly.
We’ve received support from Lib Dem, Conservative and indeed UKIP party members and MPs who, despite other disagreements, share our concern for LGBT rights in Britain. We won’t turn away anyone who wants to help us in our campaigns, participate in our debates or come to our meetings.
In meetings, we abide by one simple rule: no-one will ask you your sexuality, and you are under no obligation to tell anyone what your sexuality is. All aspects of our group’s organisation and activities are done by people of any and all sexualities. Our aim is to include and engage everyone, gay or straight, based on a shared view that LGBT rights matter in a civilised society, and an equal disgust at any form of discrimination against people on the grounds of their sexual preference.