Bristol Pride 2015

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Bristol Labour LGBT officer and council candidate John Halpin; Bristol South MP Karin Smyth; Bristol West Labour activist Laura De Vito and Councillor for Bedminster Mark Bradshaw at Labour’s Pride stall.

On Saturday Bristol celebrated Pride with a march and event in Castle Park. It was great that so many turned out for the event – the most ever. I am proud to represent such an inclusive, vibrant city which celebrates the diversity that so enriches us as a community. I was sorry that my chemotherapy treatment cycle kept me away but course loads of Bristol West Labour volunteers were there, including our very own John Halpin (Bristol Labour LGBT officer), pictured above, who organised the fantastic Bristol Labour LGBT stall - do contact me if you would like to be put in touch with John.

I am also pleased that Bristol Pride has continued to be free of charge for attendees. It is important that the event is accessible and open to all. However, to continue to be viable it is essential that the event receives adequate funding from Bristol City Council. I will be working with Bristol Labour Party to ensure that this continues to be the case.

Britain has made great strides on LGBT equality in the past two decades, with the Labour Government elected in 1997 a driving force for that change. We abolished Section 28, achieved an equal age of consent, gave same-sex couples the right to adopt children, ended the ban on LGBT people serving in the armed forces, implemented the Gender Recognition Act and introduced the Equality Act, amongst many other measures.

But there is still a way to go. Trans* people still face discrimination and difficulties accessing the healthcare they need. LGBT people are more likely to face mental illness, substance abuse issues and homelessness. LGBT youths often endure bullying in schools.

Regarding the latter, it is important that at a young age children are educated about the importance of respecting and embracing diversity. That is why I am sponsoring Caroline Lucas MP’s Ten Minute Rule Bill on PSHE (Personal, Social, Health and Economic) education, which will be presented before the House on 15th July. The Bill will ensure that it is a statutory requirement for state-funded schools to teach a broad-based PSHE curriculum, including adequate sex and relationships education and teaching on equality and diversity. Working with young people in Bristol, including young LGBT people concerning the provision of inclusive education was an important aspect of the work that I did during my campaign and I will continue this work as an MP. We need concerted action across government, schools and local authorities to ensure that LGBT-phobic bullying is a thing of the past.

John Halpin is leading efforts on behalf of Bristol Labour Party to lobby the City Council to adopt an LGBT diversity and equality policy to ensure that the necessary steps are being taken to prioritise LGBT issues and make this city as inclusive and welcoming as possible. I am in full support of John’s efforts and it makes me very proud to be working with so many talented and committed activists in Bristol West Labour Party. We will keep up the pressure to make sure Bristol continues to be one of the most LGBT-friendly cities in the country.

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