What is Domestic Abuse?

In March 2013, faced with a rising awareness of domestic violence against women, the government redefined what it meant by ‘domestic abuse’ to underline the fact that it involved more than physical violence. It defined it as follows:

“Any incident or pattern of incidents of coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or who have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.”

Thus for the first time it was at least implicitly acknowledged that abuse could be directed against LGB and transgender people (and indeed committed by them) and that it was not just between partners but could be ostracism directed against someone coming out to their family as gay, and could be directed against those aged 16-18 as well as over.

LGBT Domestic Abuse Early Day Motion Campaign
LGBT domestic abuse is an under-reported, under-studied issue.

This abuse can cover, as well as violence, psychological, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. Controlling or coercive behaviour were included within this definition but the definition is not a legal one. Thus not all types of domestic abuse as currently defined are criminal offences. There is considerable debate among advocacy groups of the advantages and disadvantages of doing so.

The common view, however, has remained that domestic abuse is domestic violence and that domestic violence is only visited upon women by men. This is simply not true. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that this is still underestimated either because the law is inadequate, or poorly policed, or women are still reluctant to come forward , or cases are badly dealt with by the courts, or, most likely, a combination of all of them, there is virtual denial that men too are the victims of abuse (up to one third of all cases) and so are LGBT couples and individuals. Indeed ,what research there is suggests that the incidence is greater among LGBT people.
In broad terms, we are in the position that women were in decades ago — and their problems are not yet resolved– that Like Admiral Nelson placing his eyeglass to his blind eye we see no problem (including regarding abuse within the LGBT community) and that therefore very little is done and that help is minimal.

The Extent and Nature of LGBT Domestic Abuse

Research done by organisations such as Broken Rainbow – the truly admirable charity in this area -, Stonewall, Domestic Abuse Oxfordshire and others suggests that domestic abuse in the LGBT Community is a serious issue. About 25% of LGBT people have been victims—about the same rate as against heterosexual women (and probably higher in reality because of under-reporting). LGBT people suffer many of the same types of abuse as heterosexual people but there are also additional factors – some of which the LGBT Community itself have been reluctant to recognise. These include:

1. Violence not by partners but by families – especially acute in the case of LGBT youngsters who come out to their families and are rejected. A disproportionately high number of homeless youth are homeless for this reason – many others have their lives made hell at home but put up with it because they have nowhere else to go.

2.  ‘Outing’ as a method of control. The abuser may threaten to ‘out ‘the victim to their friends ,family, workmates and others as a very effective method of control against those who have hidden their sexuality. Bisexual people can be particularly vulnerable here.

3. The offender using the close knit nature of the LGBT Community to ostracise complainants (‘we are not macho men–we do not do things like that–it is just a lovers tiff’ -or whatever). The threat of social isolation can be a very effective means of control.

4.  Lack of support for LGBT people outside the LGBT Community both because the problem is not recognised or people do not know how to deal with it effectively.

5. Sadly, just as in the old days too many women accepted being knocked about a bit was a natural part of married life , the police were not interested in ‘domestics’ and – most shockingly of all – the widespread belief that abused women ‘must have asked for it.’ Many LGBT people believe that they are suffering this abuse BECAUSE of their sexuality—that it is a natural part of it.If they were straight they would not be experiencing it. Therefore in some cases they blame themselves for the abuse they are subjected to. Just as many abused heterosexual women returned to their partners believing that they must have ‘provoked’ their partner or out of economic need.Abuse is abuse whatever your sexuality and nothing excuses it.

6. LGBT domestic abuse is not widely recognised as a problem in the LGBT Community. Many simply do not believe it happens. Others do not recognise it as abuse when it happens to them and simply do not know what to do if they become aware of it happening to a friend – or are afraid to do so.

7. LGBT Communities are often hidden and indeed many LGBT people are not part of them. This problem can be particularly acute in small towns and rural areas where LGBT people are still largely out of sight.

8. They may be ashamed of the abuse and blame themselves for it .This was the classic reason that women did not complain of abuse by men. Sexuality is irrelevant here. Abuse is abuse. It is unacceptable.

9. The abuser may try to turn the LGBT Community against them and isolate them from social contact or indeed they may not be in contact in the first place.

10. It is hard for LGBT victims to seek help because they do not want to disclose their sexuality to the police and other organisations.

11. They may have no confidence that their complaints will be effectively dealt with. And sadly they may be right not to.Agencies may make heterosexual assumptions about clients which make things more difficult.

12. People might be scared that if they complain they will give LGBT relationships a bad name and seem to justify homophobic attitudes.

What Needs to be Done

1. Raise the profile of the problem of LGBT Domestic Abuse in society generally.

2. Raise the profile of the problem in the LGBT Community. Make sure that our community acknowledges that it has a problem. Make sure that it gets the message to LGBT people that this is unacceptable, advise them, support them, investigate whether present support is adequate – or more precisely in what ways it is inadequate. We need to gather information as well – until we know the true nature and extent of the problem it will be difficult to lobby for adequate support.

3. Unless victims have the confidence to come forward – which they will only do if they have confidence in the system this will be virtually impossible to do.This is a truly vicious circle because if they do not come forward we will never have the resources to cater for their particular needs. If officialdom does not believe there is a problem there will be no specialist support and therefore people will be reluctant to seek non-existent support.

4. As charities such as Broken Rainbow have repeatedly pointed out advice and training must be given to those (where they exist) who are responsible for domestic abuse policy in mainstream and specialist organisations, or who are otherwise involved with the survivors or perpetrators of those suffering from domestic violence or abuse with a view to increasing the physical safety and mental well being of LGBT people who experience violence or abuse.

LGBT Domestic Violence Write to MP Campaign
Support for LGBT domestic abuse survivors needs to be expanded.

5. Such help must be statutory and not on a ‘one size fits all’ basis as is too often the case at present. This applies to NHS services -especially mental health – but also to refuges and housing.This situation is worsened by the horrific cuts imposed by central government on local services. We are aware that refuges for women fleeing violence are shamefully being closed across the country as a result of government austerity cuts but LGBT people have SPECIALIST needs -for example for the 16 year old thrown out of the family home or fleeing it when subjected to homophobic abuse. They form a totally disproportionate section of youngsters homeless on the streets.and once there they are vulnerable to numerous other problems such as sexual exploitation, sexually caused infections and alcohol and drug abuse. Similarly specialist support – including housing-for transgender people is usually laking and scarcely even recognised. It is not surprising that suicide rates among both groups are high.

6. Proper advice, information and support must be offered. The LGBT Community itself – as well as charities and official bodies must play a full part in this. They must recognise that there is a problem. Until they do we will be unable to lobby effectively for more specialist support.

7. As well as looking at whether the present law is being properly implemented and supported we must look at whether the law itself is adequate . This of course is one of the most difficult areas of all as rape and violence against women has proved over several decades. If the law is perceived to be inadequate is that a fault with the law itself or the way it is being operated – or indeed both? Again, we need information.

8. Finally, young people must be taught in school what is acceptable in relationships and what constitutes abuse. Atrocious though the level is of violence against heterosexual women by heterosexual men men suffer domestic abuse too, So do LGBT people. All schools must teach sex and relationships education and that must be LGBT inclusive.All abuse is unacceptable.

There is a lot to do. The first is to recognise that we have a problem.



By Colin Livett 23/11/14

The Private Members Bill on Mandatory SRE Inclusive PSHE was presented to the Commons on 24th Oct.

The bill today passed its second reading without a vote being forced and will therefore be given its third reading next month. Diana’s case was strengthened by Tory MP for Shipley, Philip Davis, saying that he was offended by the idea of sex education in schools and that it should be left to the parents. Perhaps he had some bad experiences in school! Diana correctly pointed out that the government should not just ‘sit back and hope’ that parents would talk to their children and that the intention was to reinforce good parenting and not replace it.

It was also made clear in a statement from Diana’s Office to Pink News that her intention was that the national curriculum would address the problems faced by LGBT youngsters.

We obviously wholeheartedly endorse that but would still welcome it being specifically in the bill.

Danny Norton Presenter Tues 8-10Pm Repeated Sat 10pm Sun 9PM
Danny Norton Presenter
Tues 8-10Pm
Repeated Sat 10pm
Sun 9PM
Tomorrow night (21st October 2014), a new show starts on West Hull FM that aims to reach the area’s LGBT community. The progamme will be broadcst on a weekely basis every Tuesday evening from 8-10pm.

The programme will be a magazine type one, with interviews, debate and a few laughs along the way. It will be light-hearted but with a purpose, and its main aim is to get its listeners to contact the show and have their voices and concerns heard.

There are also opportunities for people to get involved themselves and we all have the chance to broadcast on the show. If you’d like to get involed, simply contact the sation manager. Follow the links on the website, www.westhullfm.org.uk.

However, using the same link you can just switch on the show, lie back an enjoy it. And don’t forget to get involved.

The LGBT Community programme on West Hull FM (called Proud and Loud) will be broadcast weekly on Tuesday evenings between 8-10, listen live on 106.9fm or online. West Hull FM is a not-for-profit organisation in assosiation with the Goodwin project, and its beneficieries are the people of West Hull, for whom their community is the target audience.

The Select Committee on PSHE and SRE holds its first evidence session on Tuesday 21st October at 9:30. It will be broadcast on Parliament TV. The purpose of this first session is to study academic evidence on sexual health and academic attainment,the effect of recent government action and how the effectiveness of SRE should be measured. A second panel will look at the current quality of PSHE and SRE in Schools, the ways in which schools interact with parents on SRE, and the impact of the current status of the subject.

At least it looks as though the inquiry will be addressing some of the right questions.

Diana speaking in the House of Commons
Diana speaking in the House of Commons

On the same day that the Select Committee is to take evidence for the for the first time, Diana Johnson, Labour MP for Hull North is to introduce her Sex and Relationships Education (Curriculum) Bill under the ten minute rule bill.

The bill calls for the Secretary of State to make provision to include education about sex and relationships,resilience against bullying and sexual abuse and ending violence against women and girls in the national curriculum. We of course welcome these provisions but they do not go far enough:

1. There is no provision for SRE to be part of an integrated PSHE programme. The overwhelming view of those organisations supporting SRE provision has been that this is the best way to provide it (see evidence we presented to the Select Committee). This, until a short while ago -until indeed the arrival of Tristram Hunt as Shadow Education Secretary – USED to be Labour’s policy too. It would appear that Mr. Hunt has cast a very long shadow over this bill as he has been implacably opposed to mandatory PSHE.

2. It is good that SRE would be part of the National Curriculum —as we have argued this would give the subject proper status, resourcing and answerability. However, many schools do not have to teach the National Curriculum. is it seriously being argued that youngsters in those schools should be left in ignorance and without protection? Why?

3. The Bill, as drafted, points to the particular problem faced by girls in schools. That is undoubtedly true and it is high time that these problems were tackled. However LGBT youngsters have also faced systematic abuse, bullying , lack of self esteem, mental ill-health and dropping out of school. Some-n desperation continue to turn to conversion therapy.We feel that this well-documented problem should be spelt out as much as that of girls. It is not a specifically LGBT of course —but neither is it spefically a female one. I am sure that such was not the intention.

Diana Johnson has been a doughty fighter for LGBT rights – her record is second to none. But this suggested bill has severe limitations. Is half a loaf better than none? I suppose it depends how hungry you are. But we will continue to campaign for the Full Monty.

By Colin Livett, 20/10/14.

This post draws on information from Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests to all 211 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups in England. It was published in my personal blog on 14 September. It’s a hefty 5000-word piece, but if you want further information, please head over and have a read.

If you’re interested in publicising this information more widely, you must email me first

Since we started our campaign against gay to straight conversion therapy, the Government has made some very positive moves against the practice of gay conversion. Parties of all colours are now talking far more about the problem.

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago, none of the voluntary registers which accredit counsellors and psychotherapists – not least the two largest, the BACP and UKCP – had made any statements against the practice. Indeed, one of the conversion therapists who attempted to cure Patrick Strudwick was accredited with the BACP at the time.

Things are much more positive now. Before our campaign kicked off, Strudwick’s therapist was struck off and the BACP and UKCP made positive statements against the practice. Since the onset of our campaign, the Department of Health has moved to take measures against the practice. Lib Dem Health Minister Norman Lamb has arranged for a a joint statement condemning the practice by major counselling and psychotherapy organisations, alongside Stonewall. He’s also promised to monitor and ensure that no NHS bodies commission the therapy for their patients. Awareness of the problem has been raised, and if you go on an NHS choices website describing different types of therapy, there’s now a small section on conversion therapy. It bluntly reassures readers that “sexual orientation is not a mental health problem.”

But this, surely, can’t be the end of it. For one, Norman Lamb has ruled out a ban on the practice because he feels that it may make therapists who want to positively help LGBT patients weary of doing so. As the Guardian quoted him back in April:

“There will be people who want help with coming to terms with their sexuality and need to be able to seek support from a professional,” he said. It was important to avoid a situation where a doctor or therapist felt they could not counsel someone in that situation. “We must not end up with a situation where we end up with people fearing they will be prosecuted.”

Secondly, Norman Lamb has ruled out statutory regulation of counsellors and psychotherapists. This means that people can practice in this sector without being part of professional bodies, like those above, which have made statements against the practice. As he told us during a Westminster Hall Debate about conversion therapy on 20 November 2013:

“We believe that statutory regulation would not be appropriate and the costs to registrants or the taxpayer could not be justified. This is not to say that we are ruling out statutory regulation for this group for ever. We will continue to assess the need for it. I give an absolute assurance about that.”

Thirdly and finally, the Department of Health appears to have carried out no investigations whatsoever as to whether or not the NHS commissions unaccredited counsellors and psychotherapists. We thus don’t know whether it is the policy of bodies which commission counselling and psychotherapy – most especially Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), which play a major role in commissioning such services following the Coalition’s top-down reorganisation – to only use counsellors and psychotherapists which are accredited to bodies such as the BACP and UKCP.

Working with Diana Johnson MP, we’ve thus made Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all 211 CCGs in England asking about their policies in this area. The full findings are published in my personal blog and – though it’s a hefty read – I encourage anyone with an interest in this issue to go and skim through it. There’s an interactive map setting out every CCG’s policy.

The findings are troubling. They provide evidence, finally, that some NHS bodies don’t check whether or not counsellors and psychotherapists are accredited with professional bodies before they use them. As I highlight in my blog, I believe this poses considerable problems when it comes to tracking unscrupulous practitioners and ensuring they don’t gain posts elsewhere in the NHS.

To me, these findings have much broader implications for the services people can expect to receive in the burgeoning mental health sector. Conversion therapy is a tiny part of this issue, and there is a risk of over-stating the issue.

Nevertheless, I feel the information I’ve gathered  shows that the NHS needs to beef up the way it commissions counselling and psychotherapy. Sure, we now know that if you’re a member of a professional body and you’re found to practice conversion therapy, you should be struck off by your professional body. But if NHS bodies don’t check with professional bodies to ensure all practitioners are accredited – or, to use the NHS jargon, compel “Providers” they “commission” to check all their practitioners are accredited – then how would you know that a therapist you employed had been struck off?

This really undermines the ability of patients maltreated by unscrupulous practitioners – whether it be through conversion therapy, or any other form of maltreatment – to achieve proper redress. The only way you can achieve proper justice is if you compel all public bodies to only commission accredited therapists – which can best be achieved by making counselling and psychotherapy a statutorily-regulated profession – and by implementing a law to ban conversion therapy.

Norman Lamb’s view that a ban would prevent good therapists from helping seems rather perplexing. Given that many US states have now implemented bans on this practice, a great body of evidence will soon emerge as to whether this is true or not, and whether US therapists have found the ban a barrier to genuinely helping their patients explore their sexuality in a positive and constructive manner. If Lamb thinks this, he should at least commit the DoH to monitoring how the situation develops in the US.

My blog post goes into more detail on the measures which need to be taken. But to cut a long story short: until the Government does takes measures to ban the practice and regulate counseling and psychotherapy, our fight goes on.

By Tom Stephens.

Friday’s Hull Daily Mail carried a great story about Hull City FC and Stonewall’s rainbow laces campaign for this year.

Great to hear Hull City FC Support Stonewall's Rainbow Laces Campaign.
Great to hear Hull City FC Support Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces Campaign.

Stonewall campaign last year was a first, but they faced some difficulties and it wasn’t universally-supported. This year’s campaign looks like it’s going to get a broader base of support, with a Hull City spokesman saying “we absolutely back the Rainbow Laces campaign launched by the FA.” That never happened last year – at least to no great extent (only one player wore them).

However we need to go further. Designating a football match in February the Football v. Homophobia match, for example, would make a big statement.

Nevertheless, it’s fantastic that something is being done – and at our local club too!

Sadly, whilst the campaign is to be applauded, it was largely invisible. I watched the game on the telly and was unable to see a single one. Even when players were tying their boot laces (there was a close up shot of Hull City’s captain Curtis Davis doing this and his laces looked black to me) o never saw any. I believe that players were wearing them, it’s just that they’re not standing out. I said last year that armbands would be much better and I’m yet to alter my opinion on this. You need something that people can see, so the this link to the gay football supporters’ network  (GFSN) website may be an answer to the initial problem.

This is a great site for any football fans and it is all-inclusive. The stonewall laces were ok, but I fear they will be ineffective, however, giving gay people a way into the sport, now that is better.

The late Tony Benn often commented that, in order to be motivated into action and rebellion against the status quo, political activists needed not only to keep their anger at injustice, but to hope for a better world and to act together in order to try it about.

Ed Miliband:'We must have the courage of our convictions."
Ed Miliband:’We must have the courage of our convictions.”

Thus it would be extremely easy – and certainly justified – to be angered at the latest machinations of the leadership of all three major parties on the subject of mandatory SRE-inclusive PSHE in all schools. In the case of the Tories blinded and deafened by their ideological blinkers; in the case of the Liberal Democrats mind-boggling hypocrisy (even by their abysmal standards as evidenced by student tuition fees) as they desperately try to distance themselves from their coalition partners to save a few scalps at the election; and in the case of Labour an apparent case of short term memory loss. Let us consider each of these in turn and then look at the reasons for hope, because behind this is a rising tide of support or mandatory SRE-inclusive PSHE. There is rebellion in each of the three major parties.

Under the tutelage of Michael Gove, the ideological kneejerk reaction to such demands was always that it was up to the individual schools what to do. That remains the official position. However, demands have started to emerge for a change in policy.

Two weeks ago, Lord Norman Fowler – who ran the “Dont Die Of Ignorance” AIDs campaign as Thatcher’s Health Minister – called for mandatory SRE/PSHE on exactly the same grounds: that people should not be left to die in ignorance. Now he has been joined by back bench MP ,GP and Chair of the Health Select Committee Sarah Wollaston – much to her credit. On followed the ORIGINAL Tory “blonde bombshell” (long before Boris), Michael Fabricant. Finally, the Education Select Committee under the Chairmanship of Tory MP Graham Stuart has launched a pubic inquiry into its desirability. So signs are beginning to emerge of elements of Tory support. We welcome this. We want the widest possible support from all parties for this just as we did against Conversion Therapy.

In January 2014, the Liberal Peers in the Lords were whipped to vote against a Labour amendment to the Children Schools and Families Act that would have ensured mandatory SRE in all publicly funded schools. By voting with the Tories the measure was defeated. Similarly Liberal Democrat MPs in the Commons were whipped to vote against a new clause in the Children and Families Bill moved by Yvette Cooper – then Labour’s Shadow Equalities Minister – that would have ensured mandatory updated SRE as an integral part of PSHE in all schools funded by the taxpayer. Again, by combining with their coalition partners they ensured its defeat.

Labour should come out in favour of mandatory PSHE in all schools.
Labour should come out in favour of mandatory PSHE in all schools.

Now a few months later David Laws has announced that the Liberal Democrats would now support such a measure giving much the same reasons that Yvette Cooper gave last year – or indeed that Hull and East Yorkshire Labour LGBT+ Network gave in its submissions to Labour’s Policy Commission and the Education Select Committee Inquiry (save that we explicitly state it must be LGBT inclusive and apply to ALL schools however funded).

So yes we can deride them. They deserve it. But we are generous enough to welcome their change of heart. It should indicate that there would be support for such a measure in the Commons.

Now to Labour. The good news is that there is absolutely no doubt that Labour continues to support mandatory and “updated” SRE. By “updated” we agree that we are talking about violence against women, consent, relationships, and sexuality. Last June, whilst still Shadow Equalities Minister, Yvette Cooper told Pink News that we needed statutory PSHE which would make it – and SRE – a subject in its own right, thereby helping to address the health problems faced by LGBT students such as homophobic bullying and poor rates of sexual health in our community. Ed Miliband, again speaking to Pink News in February of this year, said:

“Making sex education in schools compulsory is the right thing to do,its the right thing for our young people, its the right thing for the country, and we should have the courage of our convictions.”

And so Labour should.  Tristram Hunt (Education) and Gloria de Piero (Equalities) have confirmed it. But the mystery is that the leadership seems to have forgotten about its previous commitment to it being an integral part of a mandatory PSHE Programme.

All expert opinion confirms that is the most effective way to deliver it. So let us remind the leadership in time for Conference. In 2010, in the dying days of the last Labour Government, Ed Balls drafted a provision in his Children Schools and Families Act that would have provided for mandatory SRE inclusive PSHE in all state funded schools – but this was defeated in the lords and the Act passed into law without that provision.

In March 2013, Yvette Cooper moved an amendment to the coalition Children and Families Bill which would broadly have provided the same and was again defeated. But by January of this year the reference to PSHE had been dropped and it has not even mentioned in the recent Policy Review. It would be bizarre indeed if the positions of Labour and the Liberal Democrats on this were reversed. That must not be allowed to happen and we call upon the upcoming Labour Party Conference to ensure that it is restored. It should also apply to all schools regardless of who funds them

Indeed there is sign of increased backbench support across all the Parties for this. This is instanced by the Private Members Bill tabled by Green MP Caroline Lucas but co-sponsored by Labour backbenchers Glenda Jackson, Barbara Keeley and Yasmin Quareshi as well as liberal Democrat Tim Farron. This is the “Personal, Social, Health, and Economic Education” [Statutory Requirement] Bill which “requires the secretary of state to provide that PSHE be a statutory requirement for all state funded schools, for PSHE to include SRE on ending violence against women and girls; to provide for initial training for initial and continuing teacher education; and guidance on best practice for delivering and inspecting PSHE and SRE Education and for connected purposes.”

The Bill is due its second reading in October. Its detailed text has not yet been published .We hope that when it is it makes specific reference to LBGT inclusiveness and of course it should be for all schools Nevertheless, we support the bill. We hope that members of all parties will support it. In particular we hope there is a massive show of support from backbench Labour MPs so that the Party Leadership’s memory might be jogged over what the Party’s policy WAS only a short time ago. Sarah Wollaston commented that there has been a surge of public opinion over this. We believe that the overwhelming majority of Labour Party MPs and members support it.It is essential that there is a strong turn out of Labour MPs so that a message can be sent to Ed Milibabd in time for the drafting of the manifesto

As Ed said: “have the courage of your convictions.” We believe that despite setbacks we are winning this battle We urge you to help it on its way by

1. If you are a Labour member pushing for conference to support it
2. Push your MP to support the Private Members Bill
3. Sign the Terrence Higgins Trust petition

Hull and East Riding Labour LGBT+ Network is delighted to announce that Margaret Pinder has been chosen to contest Beverley and Holderness against the incumbent Conservative MP, Graham Stuart, who is chair of the Education Select Committee.

Pinder - now Labour's PPC in Beverley and Holderness - has been a stalwart campaigner against homophobic bullying in schools.
Pinder – now Labour’s PPC in Beverley and Holderness – has been a stalwart campaigner against homophobic bullying in schools.

This is singularly appropriate since in 2012 Margaret launched a campaign against homophobic bullying in schools in the EastRiding. This followed on from her discovery that when she had been a 15 year old student at Beverley Girls High School her daughter, Freya. now at university, had been subjected to severe homophobic bullying.

This, as Margaret and Freya have pointed out, follows an all too familiar pattern. Homophobic bullying is hardest to identify because victims are often reluctant to report it to their teachers who as a result are likely to severely underestimate the extent of the problem.As Margaret has pointed out, a lot of young people only ‘come out ‘ once they have left school. This is because – despite the fact that people realise that they are gay when they are younger – they are reluctant to come out because they fear the reaction. As the ‘Hull Daily Mail’ reported Freya said:

“All of my gay and bisexual friends who went to schools all over the country said they had a really difficult time—-so it is not just here.”

Though homophobic bullying is prevalent in most schools, the problem is likely compounded in Hull and the East Riding.
Though homophobic bullying is prevalent in most schools, the problem is likely compounded in Hull and the East Riding.

However it is likely that the problem is compounded in areas such as the East Riding where the LGBT Community is all but s but exists in isolation. This, belief that a community does not exist and cannot therefor be facing cruelty and discrimination rather than outright hostility is why schools have not effectively tackled homophobic bullying . If a problem is not perceived to exist then why then why waste resources dealing dealing with it. The question should be why do they not see what exists. It is in every school in the country which is why mandatory LGBT inclusive SRE should be mandatory in ALL schools.

Of course Margaret will be fighting on a much wider range of social justice. As she says: “local People are worried about the NHS ,bad choices being made about local development—and environmental issues such as flooding and local energy. The Conservatives think this is a safe seat. I’m putting them on notice -it’s not safe anymore.”

Without doubt, Margaret would be a formidable champion of the often-neglected communities of the East Riding. Should she be elected she would be not only the first Labour M.P. in the Riding but also the first woman. We pledge our support and wish her well.

It was time to celebrate in the Avenues Ward on Saturday, as we held our celebration with cakes and tea (there was also a raffle at which a certain councillor Steve Wilson did rather well), to celebrate the success of the Labour Party in the ward. Avenues is now an all-Labour ward following the election of councillor Marjorie Brabazon in May, who will serve alongside her Labour colleagues Andy Dorton and Rosie Nicola.

It was a glorious day until I turned up and brought some torrential rain coupled with a violent thunderstorm with me – sorry to all those who were enjoying the nice weather!

Hull Pride Petition
Diana Johnson MP, Cllr. Rosie Nicola and me with the PSHE Petition

At the Network, we have been racking our brains for months now trying to decide who would be our best candidiate for handing the petition calling for PSHE to. It was going to go all the way to Parliament, however, when we first designed the petition and first started to gather signatures, we had already planned on making this campaign a local one, so we didn’t want to use this path.

In the end, it was decided that it was best to stick with the local theme that this campaign had initially been raised for, so we took the opportunity of the celebration to corner Rosie Nicola, who is responsible for the portfolio at Hull City Council for Liaison with Schools (schools services); School Improvement; Equalities and Diversity; Children’s Social Care; Priority Families Programme; Prevention and Early Intervention/Safeguarding Children. So it was very handy that Rosie was there to receive our petition, as well as our local MP Diana Johnson, who has already been instumental in our successful campaigns. Diana has also offered to take the petition to Parliament should we decide that this is the best option.

The petition calls on the Government to adopt mandatory LGBT-inclusive PSHE and SRE in all schools.
The petition calls on the Government to adopt mandatory LGBT-inclusive PSHE and SRE in all schools.

This is yet another significant milestone for the Network, the latest in a long line of such achievements it is hoped. This petition, which was signed by participants at Hull Pride 2013, gathered in excess of 700 signatures over the two days, an incredible feat for us. We’d like to express our sincerest thanks to all those who were at the event for their hard work, we hope you had fun doing it too. Labour was the ONLY represented political group at Hull Pride, showing once agian who really stands shoulder to shoulder with the LGBT community in Hull and the East Riding

At the recent Labour Party Policy Forum , the following statement on Conversion Therapy was issued:

“Labour strongly believes that being LGBT is not an illness and [that] it should never be treated as something that is curable,which is why we believe that public money should never be spent on ‘conversion’ or ‘cure’ therapies. Labour will ensure that existing safeguards are strengthened to prevent this from happening and will examine the effectiveness of the current system of regulation. Labour will work with the professional bodies to ensure that publicly-funded services enforce the Equalities Act 2010.”

There is much to welcome here and it testifies to the success of our campaign that this has at all been stated. But there are far too many limitations. We welcome:

1. The restatement that being LGBT is not a disease and is not curable.
2. That these quack ‘remedies’ should not be funded by the NHS etc,
3. That the existing system of regulation by the professional bodies be examined for its effectiveness. As we have repeatedly pointed out proper regulation ,ensuring that only properly accredited therapists could operate. Since all the professional bodies now outlaw Conversion Therapy that would lead – effectively – to the end of conversion therapy. The great snag of course is that at present anyone can set themselves up as a psychotherapist, without accreditation or regulation and offer whatever ‘therapies’ they wish.
4. There is great potential in pledging that the Equalities At 2010 be utilised to protect LGBT people. Potentially this would ensure that the NHS provided the health services and support systems that LGBT people currently do not get, that schools effectively tackle homophobia and that we have an EFFECTIVE hate crime … and so on.

But the devil is in the detail – or more accurately perhaps in he lack of it – and even more importantly in some glaring omissions.

Earlier this year, Diana Johnson and 14 other MPs wrote to the responsible minister Norman Lamb asking him to ensure the following measures were put into operation in addition to his pledge not use public money to fund such quackery as Conversion Therapy. These were:

1.  Effective training in LGBT-friendly health provision.
2.  Investigate NHS and professional links with conversion therapists.
3. Ensure that CGC’s and other commissioning bodies in the NHS only commission from registered therapists who are registered with bodies who have already condemned conversion therapy.
4. Ensure effective regulation for the counselling and psychotherapy sector.
5. Ensure the EFFECTIVE use of the Public Sector Equality Sector Duty of the Equalities Act 2010.
6. Explore legal restrictions against conversion therapy.

Now,what does Labour’s commitment amount to in practical terms? It says precisely nothing about 6-legal restrictions or indeed points 3 and 4. But certainly elements of 1,2 and 5 will be carried out. In time point 5 could be of immense benefit to LGBT people as will point 1.

We warmly welcome that Labour has ‘come out’ [sorry!] and made a public statement and commitment which – at least in part – is a reaction to the campaigning that we have carried out. But there is one really important omission here.

Given time, and a Labour Government, this policy statement could lead to the effective end of Conversion Therapy and their should be far more effective support for LGBT people in the public services. But that will take time, and it applies ONLY to the public sector, The Private sector could still offer this quackery.

The big omission here is the complete failure to use the law. The government should make the of

A Labour Government should legislate to make conversion therapy illegal, at least for those aged under 18.

fering of conversion therapy under the age of 18 ILLEGAL. It is this group who are the most vulnerable, struggling to come to terms with their sexuality with devastating results—well documented–at home, in school and in society who, not being offered the help and support they need may turn in desperation to conversion therapy.

Put quite simply, this does not work and it does harm . The first duty of the state should be to protect its citizens from harm especially the most vulnerable among whom these LGBT youngsters are. Conversion Therapy for them is nothing other than child abuse and it is the moral duty of any government to stop it. We cannot wait for friendly talks with the therapist bodies to take place. This evil must be stopped now.

We call for conversion therapy for people under the age of 18 to be made illegal. The Coalition Government have ruled that out. Labour has been silent. Labour must be made to make conversion therapy for under-18s illegal – whoever tries to offer it.