The Equality Alliance is organising a mass vigil outside Parliament on the night of the Age of Consent vote, between 6 - 10 p.m.. The 100+ organisations of the EA will begin to poster and leaflet the clubs and pubs across the UK this week in an initiative to remind the Government that if they do vote for an equal age of consent that does not signify full equality. They must go further and scrap all homophobic laws.
The EA is aware that Government will probably hand us an equal age of consent followed by the removal of the entire clause of the 1988 Local Government Act which contains Section 28, citing it as a piece of outdated legislation.
"The Government will no doubt hope that we will be grateful and satisfied with their programme of reform. This is not the case. We have waited far too long for all homophobic legislation to be scrapped. Getting the corner pieces of a jigsaw in place is a long way off completing the full puzzle", said Ian Farmer of the EA.
In a move to block any further equality, the Government has rejected the amendment to the Crime and Disorder Bill to include homophobic hate crimes. The argument made by Government is that its inclusion will dilute the original amendment solely concentrating on race hate.
Whilst the EA accepts that race hate should be dealt with severely, so too should all other crimes motivated by prejudice. The Government's argument is completely homophobic in itself! They are aware that the amendment has been tabled in a separate clause of the bill: intentionally, so as not to dilute the racial issue. It will have no adverse affect and can only lead to the protection of innocent victims of violent crime. The move by the Government can only give comfort to the queer-bashers in our society, who will rejoice in the defence of their violent and prejudiced attacks. The EA has therefore written to the 24 members of the Standing Committee to urge them to reconsider their decision. It is possible to force a vote, at which point the Government may make a U-turn: but we have to show that there is overwhelming support for the amendment. The EA is therefore urging everyone to write to their MP, in order to lobby the members of the Committee in support of the amendment.
It seems that everyone is constantly being asked to write to their MP: but there has never been such a tide of change in the offing as now. We must all make a significant contribution if we care, and we ask that everyone concentrates their efforts in the next few weeks to generating massive support for the Age of Consent vote, the Hate Crimes amendment, the Human Rights amendment, the repeal of Section 28 and the biggest Pride March on London to date. Although it has all come at once, we cannot allow it to wash over us. It is far too important to ignore, we cannot stress that enough.
The EA is therefore urging every individual across the UK to join in the vigil outside Parliament once the date has been announced. "We all want full equality: it's up to all of us to demand it. We must make our thoughts and feelings known, and we must do it now before it is too late", concluded Farmer.
The Equality Alliance is hoping for a turnout of thousands at the vigil, please support it and tell your friends, family and colleagues to do so as well. Look out for the date, and please go to Parliament!
For further information contact:
|Ian Farmer, PR Coordinator Equality Alliance:||07050-61.19.02|
|Helen Redwood, Action Coordinator:||07050-61.19.03|