Nick Herbert: Parliamentary group on global LGBT rights will help tackle ‘discrimination and abuses’

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Tory MP Nick Herbert has said that a new cross-party Parliamentary group on LGBT rights will work with NGOs to help tackle “breaches of LGBT rights” around the world.

Members of Parliament and peers for the first time this month formed a new All-Party Parliamentary Group on global LGBT rights – to tackle rights issues around the world.

APPGs are informal cross-party groups, which have no official status within Parliament – but dedicate their time to working on specific issues across party lines.

The new APPG, which includes politicians from the Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Scottish National and Green parties from across the Commons and the Lords – will work to push issues in Parliament relating to LGBT people around the world.

Tory MP Nick Herbert said: “I am delighted to have been elected Chair of the APPG on Global LGBT Rights and I look forward to working closely with my fellow parliamentarians on these issues.

“While the advance of LGBT rights in many countries has been remarkable, as the decision of the Supreme Court in the US testifies, elsewhere in the world we are seeing discrimination and abuses which are of real concern.

“The power of this group is that is cross-party and will work closely with interested NGOs. I hope that it will help to ensure that, when breaches of LGBT rights occur around the world, UK parliamentarians respond in the most coordinated and effective manner possible.

“I would also like to put on record my gratitude to Crispin Blunt and the Kaleidoscope Trust for providing the foundations for this group, and I look forward to continuing their good work.”

The group’s vice chairs include Lord Cashman, Labour’s Envoy on LGBT Rights, SNP MP Stewart McDonald, Lib Dem peer Baroness Barker, and Green MP Caroline Lucas. Labour’s Lord Collins of Highbury was elected Treasurer, and Tory MP Ben Howlett MP as Secretary.

Caroline Lucas MP said: “There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in advancing LGBT rights across the world, and it’s good to see parliamentarians coming together on such a crucial issue.

“I hope that this all party group can hold the Government to account where necessary to ensure that British foreign policy, and our rules on immigration, promote the wellbeing of LGBT people across the world.”

Lord Cashman, who was one of the co-founders of Stonewall, said: “The APPG will give us a unique opportunity to share our skills to ensure that LGBT people both in the United Kingdom and internationally enjoy the same rights wherever they are born and wherever they live.

“Working with local activists in other countries and in the UK we can ensure that the universality of human rights becomes a reality.”

Baroness Barker said: “The APPG is uniquely placed to bring together governments, civil society and businesses to build strong, safe communities in which all citizens, including those who are LGBTI, prosper. Let’s get started.”

Stewart McDonald added: “I am very pleased to have been elected as vice chair of the APPG on Global LGBT Rights. This group has been founded at a crucial time.

“Although in the UK LGBT rights have advanced rapidly in recent years, the opposite is true in many other countries around the world.

“I look forward to working with colleagues across the House to put our commitment to promote LGBT rights internationally into practice.”

There is already a long-standing APPG on HIV and AIDS – which Tory MP Mike Freer was recently elected to chair.

Parliament introduced a Women and Equalities Select Committee for the first time last month, and former equalities minister Maria Millerwas elected as chair. Select Committees provide scrutiny of the government’s equality work, and are distinct from APPGs.