Diane Abbott: We must fight to keep London’s LGBT venues open

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Labour MP Diane Abbott, who is running to become Mayor of London, writes for PinkNews following last week’s Pride in London.

This weekend, I was almost overwhelmed as I attended Pride. When I first entered Parliament in 1987, I would never have imagined we’d reach a day when millions of people would come out to affirm LGBT equality. It was a wonderful sight. But I’m conscious that the struggle isn’t over.

It’s hard to believe that, only twenty years ago, it was illegal to talk about homosexuality as an “acceptable lifestyle”.

I was among a small group of people that consistently stood up to the Tories then and opposed their punitive policies against the LGBT community.

Over my time in Parliament, it’s been a pleasure to be able to vote for gay adoption rights, gender recognition, lesbian IVF, laws against discrimination and, most recently, people’s right to marry.

We have come a long way from the dark days of bigotry. But we do have much further to go.

It’s a travesty to see so many of the key institutions of the LGBT community facing closure.

Places like The Black Cap, the Joiner’s Arms and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern have been part of London’s backbone for decades. London needs strong community spaces.

That’s why, if elected mayor, I would do everything I could to keep these places open.

Far more worrying is how many LGBT people in London are facing homelessness. Because of the challenges that young LGBT people still face, they are disproportionately at risk of being put out onto the streets.

Charities like the Albert Kennedy Trust do a fantastic job with the resources they have – but tackling homelessness should be the responsibility of mayors and governments, not charities.

We need somebody who will actually solve the housing crisis. That’s why I’m campaigning for more affordable homes; caps on rent; and action against exploitative landlords.

We need to be certain that all Londoners can live safely and on a reasonable budget. This issue affects the most marginalised people most and that’s why it’s still such an important issue for the LGBT community.

I have spent my whole life campaigning for the rights of the most marginalised people.

Now, I want to be able to do that as Mayor of London. I want to do whatever’s needed so that everybody can feel like they have Pride in London.

Diane Abbott is the Member of Parliament for Hackney North.