by Iona Jacob

Fighting hate and breaking down stigmatisation requires coming together – it requires community. But what will leaving the European Union mean for the LGBT community?

Being in the EU has given our nation the opportunities to work collectively on challenging homophobia on an international scale. Essentially, Britain has had a platform on which it could showcase its progression and encourage others to follow suit.

But Boris Johnson, the face of the Leave campaign, said in March that the EU could not be given any credit for British LGBT freedoms because those laws came from our parliament.

It is undeniable that our progress is down to the British people and their high regard for tolerance, but we cannot ignore how the EU has influenced our evolution.

Whilst not all countries in the EU allow LGBT marriages, most recognise civil partnerships. In countries where same sex marriage is not legal but other forms of partnership are recognised, LGBT couples married in a different EU country will be recognised as having at least a partnership.

This security can’t be guaranteed anymore. Surely those EU countries will now not be required to recognise British LGBT marriages as any kind of partnership, causing issues for LGBT couples who wish to travel abroad to these places.

The EU also passed the Employment Equality Framework Directive – a key piece of legislation that criminalises discrimination at work based on sexual orientation, racism or religion.

According to the Huffington Post it helped inform the UK’s Equality Act, proving that we were positively influenced by our neighbouring nations, and it is questionable whether Britain will make the same progress without the EU’s support.

However, with several nations with fewer rights for LGBT people trying to join the EU, including Turkey and Serbia, we might have unchained ourselves from politicians who do not share our inclusive values.

The LGBT Leave campaign ‘Out and Proud’ also claimed that having the ability to sign our own trade deals would mean Britain could put more pressure on countries to improve equality. But can this be guaranteed? Would Britain really challenge these countries and would LGBT issues take prominence?

These questions will only be answered in time and our values and laws will still have a positive impact on British people. However, our own advances in LGBT rights will no longer put pressure on other EU countries in the same way.

We have lost our platform to create more positive change. With several EU countries still not accepting same-sex marriage, we have walked away at a time when our influence could have been strongest. We could have made a real change in the world to ensure that all people feel safe wherever they are.

Whilst Britain can still challenge homophobic beliefs, it is hard to believe that we will have more of an impact on our own than we do as part of a group. As Nia Griffith, the Shadow Minister of Wales, said to Pink News: “While we’re proud to be out, we’re better off in.”

Having now voted to leave, we can only hope that Britain goes from strength to strength and continues to support the worldwide LGBT community by pressurising nations falling behind in equal rights.

 

*This article originally appeared on The National Student

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