Labour needs to do more for its LGBT politicians, report claims

Even progressive parties can get caught up in crafting the right ‘image’, the report claims.

A new report from the Fabian Society, published yesterday, stresses LGBT politicians in the Labour party struggle to reach top positions.

There are currently 14 openly gay, lesbian or bisexual people Labour MPs – about 6%.

Even though this is arguably representative, nine out of ten of these politicians are white, male and cisgender.

There are currently no transgender MPs, or LGB politicians from black, Asian or other ethnic minorities within the party.

“Huge strides have been made towards LGBT equality, thanks in large part to the actions of Labour Party politicians,” Olivia Bailey, Research Director at the Fabian Society, wrote.

“[But] the research the Fabian Society is publishing underlines that homophobia, biphobia and transphobia are still a problem within Labour’s ranks.”

Some LGBT people have said there has been “inappropriate scrutiny” into the private lives of people trying to climb the ranks.

Furthermore, candidates’ fear their “physical appearance” is being considered alongside their suitability.

The report, titled the ‘The Ideal Candidate’, says the discrimination of LGBT people at senior levels in the Labour party may come from an “outdated” perception of what a perfect political candidate is – i.e. someone who isn’t gay.

Bailey describes this as: “the white man with 2.4 children living in a big house with a wife making jam.”

A senior LGBT Labour member argued that such views need to be revised in order for the Labour party to move forward.

“There’s a gap between social attitudes, which have actually moved quite a long way, and people’s perceptions about voter perception”.

The report notes: “There is no evidence that LGBT candidates perform less well at election time, or pay a penalty with the majority of voters as a result of their sexuality.”

“The political turbulence facing Labour at the moment is showing the party at its worst.”

Former Shadow Business Secretary Angela Eagle recently claimed she suffered homophobic abuse during her failed campaign to challenge Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the party.

“When we emerge from this leadership contest, the new leader will have a huge responsibility to heal divides and tackle hostility,” Bailey notes.

“Part of that must be facing all forms of discrimination head on. Labour has proudly held the mantle as the party for LGBT equality, and it must not lose it now.”