The UK’s Government has launched an LGBT action plan, in which it wants to deal with issues facing the LGBT+ community in the UK, including tackling conversion therapy, LGBT homelessness and domestic violence.
“This Government is committed to making the UK a country that works for everyone. We want to strip away the barriers that hold people back so that everyone can go as far as their hard work and talent can take them”.
Big words, so what exactly are they promising?
Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Women and Equality has outlined 75 points she wants her office to push in order to achieve better rights, equality, safety and visibility for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people of the UK.
The LGBT action plan offered the following for LGBT+ policing and safety.
“We want LGBT people to feel comfortable reporting incidents they experience, and we are not prepared to stand idly by as harmful practices such as conversion therapy happen in our country”
We will bring forward proposals to end the practice of conversion therapy in the UK. These activities are wrong, and we are not willing to let them continue. Led by the Government Equalities Office, we will fully consider all legislative and non-legislative options to prohibit promoting, offering or conducting conversion therapy. Our intent is to protect people who are vulnerable to harm or violence, whether that occurs in a medical, commercial or faith-based context. We are not trying to prevent LGBT people from seeking legitimate medical support or spiritual support from their faith leader in the exploration of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We will improve the police response to hate crime and raise awareness of local support agencies for LGBT victims. The Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will refresh the 2016 Hate Crime Action Plan later this year. The refreshed Hate Crime Action Plan will include measures to improve the awareness and skills of police officers and staff to respond to the needs of hate crime victims – including LGBT victims. The Home Office and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will also fund a bespoke training package available to all police call handlers to help ensure victims are correctly identified and supported at this critical first point of contact. The refreshed plan will also set out action to support local agencies, particularly the police, to ensure they are well placed to direct victims of hate crime to appropriate support services. The refreshed plan will aim to support partners to review and assess the coverage and awareness of local services in their areas. This summer, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services will publish the findings of its inspection of English and Welsh police forces’ effectiveness at identifying, recording, and responding to reports of hate crime. The Government is also looking at the responses to the National LGBT survey about hate crime legislation and will consider this and other evidence as part of the Hate Crime Action Plan refresh.
We will improve recording and reporting for victims of hate crime and domestic abuse. The Crown Prosecution Service will work with the LGBT stakeholders and specialist press to raise awareness of successfully prosecuted cases involving LGBT victims to increase confidence in reporting crimes. The Crown Prosecution Service will work with partners to improve the recording and monitoring of equalities data for LGBT victims of domestic abuse, rape and hate crime.
We will address domestic abuse of LGBT people with multiple and complex needs. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has a Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy commitment to improve services for victims of domestic abuse with complex needs, which can include mental ill-health and substance misuse, and is working across government to ensure the needs of LGBT victims are represented. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will also announce further significant funding for domestic abuse services across England, including refugees, as early as possible this financial year. In addition, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government are carrying out a comprehensive review of the funding and commissioning of domestic abuse services across England. The review will be informed by an audit, which will give us a picture of provision across England, including support for LGBT victims of domestic abuse, enabling government to assess what impact services are having and to identify any gaps in provision.
We have collected evidence on the barriers faced by LGBT victims of domestic abuse when seeking support and we will consider how to address them as part of the Government’s wider work on Domestic Abuse. The Government’s consultation on ‘Transforming the Response to Domestic Abuse’ sought views on what steps can be taken forward through our landmark draft Domestic Abuse Bill and supporting non-legislative package. The consultation sought views on what government can do to better support victims who face multiple barriers to accessing support including, LGBT victims of domestic abuse. The Home Office will work with the Government Equalities Office to ensure the non-legislative package fully considers the needs of LGBT victims.
We will increase awareness of support services for LGBT victims of sexual assault and abuse. NHS England will work with the police to increase awareness of services provided by Sexual Assault Referral Centres for LGBT victims and survivors who face additional barriers to reporting sexual assault and abuse. In April 2018, NHS England published the ‘Strategic Direction for Sexual Assault and Abuse Services – Lifelong care for Victims and Survivors: 2018-2023’. This strategy outlines how NHS England and agencies will improve the whole care pathway for victims and survivors of sexual assault and abuse over a lifetime. NHS England are also committed to having LGBT representation on the National Patient Participation Group for Sexual Assault Referral Centres.
We will work to understand the causes of LGBT homelessness and how we can better support LGBT homeless people’s needs. From April 2018, local authorities have started collecting case-level data, through the Homelessness Case Level Information Collection data system, on the sexual orientation and gender identity of homeless people. We will analyse this data in order to better understand the nature and scale of the problem of LGBT homelessness, as well as how well frontline staff support individuals. The Government Equalities Office and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will undertake qualitative research into the experiences of LGBT homeless people as well as conducting an audit of existing service provision. Non-statutory guidance for local authorities will be produced, raising awareness of the needs of LGBT homelessness people and ways to better support them. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government will ensure that LGBT homeless people’s needs are reflected across the Government’s forthcoming rough sleeping strategy.
We will make sure that victims of crime continue to have access to support services, to help them cope with and, as far as possible, recover from the effects of crime. This year, the Ministry of Justice is providing around £96 million to support victims of crime; around £68 million of this will be allocated to 42 Police and Crime Commissioners to locally .commission or provide support services for victims of crime, including LGBT victims. In previous years, some Police and Crime Commissioners spent some of their grant funding on specific projects for LGBT victims. In 2018 to 2019 LGBT-specific providers will continue to deliver a range of services, including counselling, advocacy and befriending services to LGBT victims of hate crime, sexual violence and domestic violence.
We will continue our work to ensure that the needs of all LGBT claimants are met in the asylum process, regardless of whether their claim was lodged on this basis. While the national LGBT survey did not ask questions about the asylum process, we remain committed to granting protection to all claimants who are found to be at risk of persecution or serious harm in their country of origin because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Home Office guidance for caseworkers on processing asylum claims on the basis of sexual orientation will be reviewed shortly. The Home Office will also publish guidance on asylum claims based on gender identity and expression in the summer. The Home Office published data on asylum claims made on the basis of sexual orientation for the first time in November 2017 and is committed to re-publishing annually. The Home Office will continue to review the training of immigration detention estate and healthcare staff to ensure that the specific needs of LGBT detainees are consistently met.
We will ensure that the UK is the safest place in the world for all users, including LGBT people, to be online. The Government response to the Internet Safety Strategy, published in May 2018, set out details of our new code of practice with guidance for social media providers. The code will help ensure that clear and transparent reporting processes are in place so that users can report abuse targeting LGBT people. We are also introducing transparency reporting for social media providers. These reports will help us understand the amount of LGBT-related abuse reported and how providers deal with these reports. The Government response also announced that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and Home Office would jointly work on a White Paper, to be published later this year. The White Paper will set out our proposals for future legislation that will cover the full range of online harms, including both harmful and illegal content. Potential areas where the Government will legislate include the social media code of practice, transparency reporting and online advertising.
We will ensure LGBT young people have access to educational online safety interventions that address their needs and are informed by their experiences. The National Crime Agency’s ‘Digital Romance’ report showed that higher proportions of LGBT young people meet partners online. It also found that significantly more lesbian and gay young people had met up with an online contact who was not who they said they were. The National Crime Agency will develop effective and appropriate education interventions to ensure LGBT young people can be full, equal and safe participants in online activity and communities, and benefit from the full potential of digital technologies. This will include identifying areas of intervention to ensure young people develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to stay safe online. They will work with LGBT young people, professionals and parents to develop the interventions and resources.
We will ensure that transgender prisoners are treated fairly, decently, lawfully with their rights respected. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service will continue to work with its advisory board to further review its Agency Instruction on the care and management of transgender offenders. Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service will commission research and will work collaboratively with partner organisations to better understand the transgender prison population and those serving sentences in the community, which will inform our ongoing work. We will consider the recommendations of the ‘Inside Gender Identity’ report into the health and social care needs of transgender offenders.
Here’s what the government plans are in other key areas: