On Tuesday, Parliament will debate the Report Stage of the Modern Slavery Bill, and in particular, an amendments that would criminalise the purchase of sex in England and Wales, similar to the one that was passed in Northern Ireland just a couple of weeks ago. It’s important that, as Liberal Democrats, we oppose those amendments.
As well as moving the sex work motion on Saturday, I had also written a speech regarding the federal policy paper on equality, which had been written and drafted by several people including the lovely Cantabridgians Zoe O’Connell and Belinda Brooks-Gordon (who had helped with, and summated, on the sex work motion). It’s a really good, and rather radical, motion, and I put in a card to speak on the trans aspects of the motion. Most of the debate centred around a Humanist and Secularist Liberal Democrats amendment regarding faith schools admissions, but I was eventually called… immediately after Zoe, who had already covered parts of my speech. As previously, the speech is below the cut.
I had two opportunities to speak at the Liberal Democrats’ Autumn Conference; the first was moving the policy motion Towards Safer Sex Work on Saturday evening. I had never moved a policy before, so it was radically different to in Spring when I made a supporting speech to a third-party policy motion. Although I was given seven minutes, I was called for time after four, hopefully by error of the chair of the debate, leading me to cut out some of the speech.
We also had to see off an attempt to wreck the motion from Oxford East, which would’ve deleted all lines regarding the Nordic model and weaken the policy regarding bodily autonomy. Thankfully, in the attempt, we succeeded, incredibly annoying arch-transphobe Julie Bindel in the process.
Due to devolutionary aspects, the policy only applies to England and Wales, although several Scottish speakers spoke in favour of it, including a hilarious rant by Kirkcaldy-based Callum Leslie, which makes me rather happy that the Scottish mood is the same and I expect that the Scottish party will pass its own policy at their own Conference in Dunfermline next month.
The text of the full speech is below the cut:
So Calderdale was one of the local parties who scheduled an EGM to discuss Clegg’s leadership under §10.2(f) of the party constitution, in which an election for the leader can be triggered if 75 local parties call for one. If you’re looking for the result: sorry, but I’m not going to divulge it myself. This post should be read in conjunction with Sarah Brown’s post about her local party EGM in Cambridge, and is published in conjunction with it. So here’s the speech I wrote for the EGM: I got called for time near the very end, but I was still able to get the points across.
There’s been a flurry of news stories in the past week, most likely to coincide with the country’s first same-sex marriages starting next Saturday, regarding how the bill came to pass. Firstly, we had television personality Paul O’Grady describe David Cameron as a “twat” and state the Lib Dems were “as much use as men’s tits”. Then, a few days later, Ben Summerskill tried (very unconvincingly) to attack the Lib Dems for being “opportunistic” on same-sex marriage. And finally, Tony Blair said that “in hindsight”, he would’ve pushed for marriage equality whilst Prime Minister. All this leads me to think one thing: both Labour and Stonewall seem to be very keen to take the credit on LGBT equality, especially with a general election round the corner. But this credit is perhaps undeserved, especially as they both seem to have done everything they could to stall it.
Making your first speech at a political conference is tough, especially when you know that the media are watching you as well as delegates there. That didn’t stop me, as a first-time conference attendee, from making a speech to the Lib Dem Spring Conference in York last Sunday, on the Digital Bill of Rights motion. Having been persuaded to by Julian Huppert and Tim Farron to mention digital freedom at Conference, I decided to make such a speech, which I reproduce below:
I know the statistics.
I know that when a woman is attacked, it’s often at the hands of a man. The same applies for when she is raped, or killed. And that goes doubly so for trans people. Our murderers tend to be, more often than not, men.
And it has an effect on some women, including myself. Try as I might, even though I know that most men mean me no harm, I can’t be comfortable around men the way I can be comfortable around women. It’s a fear that cripples many of us.
So why, then, do I feel so much wary about the term “male violence”?
As everyone will no doubt be aware by now, especially through the Independent’s front page on Tuesday, 45 schools stood accused of reintroducing the homophobic Section 28 through their sex and relationship education policies. Whether it’s through deliberate malice or lazy copy-and-pasting of outdated advice — and I’m strongly inclined to believe it’s the latter in most cases — it couldn’t come at a more opportune time, especially when eyes are on Russia for their similar (but much more enforced) law on “homosexual propaganda” and in the wake of a protracted marriage equality debate where several reactionaries were claiming, above NUT advice, that teachers were in danger of being forced to teach about homosexuality!
Something I note with some despair is the assertion that marriage equality is not a transgender issue. The argument goes that it’s primarily an LGB issue and trans people only get consequential benefits from it. Well, that’s not really accurate, as our history, and the history of others, shows.
So, the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act got given Royal Assent yesterday and, while I’m happy at the general idea of people in same-gender marriages being able to marry, I’m not singing Dancing Queen and waving my pride flag just yet. Because the legislation contains a rather insidious prejudiced open secret: the spousal veto. The lovely Sarah Brown, who should be thanked for her tireless campaigning for trans marriage equality, has a brilliant blog post about it here. I don’t want to duplicate her too much, so if you haven’t read it, do so now. And while government ministers and even some opposition MPs alike are pretending it’s not a veto, the way it works means it is.