Lord Scriven: We must give a voice to LGBT people who are suffering around the world

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Ahead of a debate in the House of Lords on global LGBTI rights, Lib Dem peer Lord Scriven has said the UK must do more to give them a voice.

All people are born free and equal, so says the UN Declaration of Human Rights, yet not everyone is listening.

Across the world people who identify as LGBTI have had to suffer, and still suffer discrimination, abuse and harm. Living in the UK I have been lucky; whilst I have had to face discrimination in my life, it has not been in the same league as others across the globe.

I want to show that, from within the Lords, I can give a louder voice to those who find it hard to speak up in their home countries.

I am proud that I join Lib Dem colleagues who have a record of doing the same. Both Lynne Featherstone and Lindsay Northover left Government with strong records of protecting those suffering abuse abroad.

Whilst we take leaps and bounds forward other countries do not have such a rosy outlook. In Uganda those ‘sheltering homosexuals’ face punishment whilst anyone convicted of being in a homosexual relationship face a life in prison.

Closer to home, in Russia, on the edges of Europe, the police can arrest tourists for being gay or promoting an end to discrimination (over there this article would be a highly illegal piece of homosexual propaganda), and those citizens who try to challenge the homophobic actions of the Russian government are labelled as terrorists.

Perhaps most horrifying is the still perpetuated belief that homosexuality is something to be ‘cured’, and the all too frequent use of rape and invasive, forced medical examinations as this ‘cure’.

In Guatemala, a transgender woman reported being raped more than 80 times whilst in, and there are allegations surrounding the solitary confinement and ill-treatment of 16 LGBTI individuals in United States immigration facilities.

Ahead of my debate I have been keen to involve as many people as possible, to make the discussion as open and inclusive as possible; it is all too easy to hold these debates behind the closed doors of the Lords (and let’s be honest, how many of you watch us on BBC Parliament?).

I have worked with All Out and the UK Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) to get input from people outside of politics into what their concerns and issues are for the global LGBTI community.

While the UK has made significant changes in the right direction, we cannot afford to be complacent, and ignore the very real problems that many LGBTI people and their families face on a daily basis in this country.

By having this debate, I hope to prove to the wider LGBTI community that they have a voice in our political system, and push Her Majesty’s Government to continue to strive to be world leaders in LGBT rights.

If the Lib Dems can work to make real changes, maybe, just maybe, other Government’s may question their own policies that silence the debate in their own countries.

Lord Paul Sriven is a Liberal Democrat peer, who has tabled a Lords debate on worldwide treatment of LGBTI citizens.