UK election 2024 –…

UK election 2024 - comparing the manifestos

The UK Parliament election is on July 4th. Of course, people choose who to vote for, for all sorts of reasons, not just the parties’ policies on LGBTI+ issues! But as an LGBTI+ equality organisation, we thought it would be helpful on this page to list the main parties’ specific manifesto commitments relating to LGBTI+ equality.

We know that, in addition to what is in the manifestos, party leaders and other representatives have spoken to the media about LGBTI+ issues. We have only included manifesto contents here, and we have quoted directly from the manifestos, and have not tried to summarise them. Because of that, this page is wordy and complicated, but that is unavoidable!

You can find links to the parties’ complete manifestos, here. It includes links to easy read versions of manifestos if they are available.

This is a Westminster election. Many areas of policy that specifically affect LGBTI+ people in Scotland are devolved to the Scottish Parliament, which means that law and policy for Scotland in those areas is usually decided not by Westminster and the UK Government, but by Holyrood and the Scottish Government. The next Holyrood election is not until 2026.

Some policy areas though, including the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act, online regulation, asylum, international relations, and the powers of the Scottish Parliament, are reserved to Westminster. That means that only the UK Parliament and Government can decide them. At this election, the parties’ commitments on those reserved matters will therefore directly apply to Scotland, depending on who is elected on July 4th. So on this page we have focussed on reserved matters.

We have also listed on this separate page the parties’ commitments on matters that are devolved to the Scottish Parliament. Manifesto commitments on those issues will not apply in Scotland, but they will apply to our LGBTI+ siblings in England and in some cases Wales as well. They may also be an indication of how the parties might vote on the same issue at Holyrood.

For each policy area here, the parties are listed in alphabetical order, and we have only listed commitments that are clearly related to LGBTI+ equality, so not every party has an entry under every policy area. If you have any query about the content of this page, please email us at en@equality-network.org

Equality Act

The Alba manifesto says:

Support equality in the law – a woman is an adult human female

And

ALBA recognises and supports the Equality Act 2010, which protects those with protected characteristics from discrimination. Protected characteristics are – age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

The ALBA Party supports efforts to strengthen clarity in the law to ensure people have the protection they need. The Equality Act protects discrimination due to “sex”, and sex is a biological fact.

The Equality Act’s single-sex exemptions recognise that single-sex accommodations are required to uphold dignity, safety, and respect in specific settings, such as some jobs and care situations.

And

Oppose any attempt to conflate gender identity with sex-based rights and protections in law, policy and guidance.

Support single-sex spaces and sex-based rights at all levels.

And

Support changes to the equality act that make clear that in regards to protection from sex based discrimination, sex means biological sex.

The Conservative manifesto says:

Our plan for greater protections around sex and gender

Biological sex is a reality. The overwhelming majority of people in this country recognise that. It is right that we have in place provisions and protections for those whose sense of self does not match their biological sex. However, we will not allow the safety and privacy of women and girls to be undermined.

It has been more than a decade since the Equality Act was passed by a Labour Government. It has not kept pace with evolving interpretations and is not sufficiently clear on when it means sex and when it means gender. The next Conservative Government will introduce primary legislation to clarify that the protected characteristic of sex in the Equality Act means biological sex. This will guarantee that single sex services and single sex spaces can be provided, for example in healthcare and sports settings, to ensure women and girls are protected.

And

We are clear that no one in this country should be harmed or harassed for who they are. That is why we are proud that the UK has one of the world’s strongest legislative frameworks to prevent and tackle discrimination and harassment against those with particular protected characteristics, including sexual orientation and gender reassignment.

And

We are committed to promoting equality of opportunity, not divisive identity politics. We value a society that is inclusive no matter what sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity or religion a person is.

The Labour manifesto says:

Labour is proud of our Equality Act and the rights and protections it affords women; we will continue to support the implementation of its single-sex exceptions.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto says:

Improve diversity in the workplace and public life by requiring large employers to monitor and publish data on gender, ethnicity, disability, and LGBT+ employment levels, pay gaps and progression, and publish five-year aspirational diversity targets.

The Reform manifesto says:

Replace the 2010 Equalities Act

The Equalities Act requires discrimination in the name of ‘positive action’. We will scrap Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I) rules that have lowered standards and reduced economic productivity.

And

Mandate Single Sex Spaces

Public toilets and changing areas must provide single sex facilities.

The Scottish Green manifesto says:

Most of the legislation that gives people protection from discrimination is not in Scotland’s hands. Instead, it is the preserve of the UK Government, which has stoked up ignorance and hate, using its powers to wage culture wars against some of the most discriminated people in our society, including transgender people, refugees and those seeking asylum.

And

Protecting the long-held rights of trans people. We will resist the changes to the equality act proposed by the current UK Tory government to water down long-held protections for trans people by redefining sex as ‘biological sex’.

And

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is a statutory body created to encourage equality and diversity, and protect and promote the human rights of everyone in the UK. The commission is supposed to be an independent body, but it has become politicised in recent years with members being appointed by the UK Government who have criticised feminism and supported hostile environment policies against migrants. It has also had its funding slashed by 70% in real terms in recent years, with further cuts proposed, leaving it unable to adequately deliver its core functions.

Meanwhile, a Coalition of charities has written to the United Nations with concerns that the Commission has actively undermined protections for trans people, protections it is tasked with upholding. The Scottish Greens are calling for the commission to be de-politicised, with responsibility for appointments to the Commission to be taken from UK Ministers and given to an independent body; and for the Commission to drop its opposition to progressive gender recognition reforms and its other anti-trans activities. Following these reforms, adequate funding should be restored to the commission to allow it to be a force for good in UK society.

The SNP manifesto says:

Protect and enhance the rights of LGBTI community

The SNP has a proud record of advancing and championing LGBTI rights in government, and we will continue to build on this, working with LGBTI communities, to make Scotland a fairer and more equal place to live. With independence we would have the full powers to improve equality in law and society, and the ability to champion LGBTI equality internationally.

Human rights

The Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights have been crucial tools in moving forward LGBTI+ equality.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto says:

We will champion the Human Rights Act and resist any attempts to weaken or repeal it.

And

Respect and defend the rights of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities, including trans and non-binary people.

And

In addition, we will defend hard-won British rights and freedoms by upholding the UK’s commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights and resisting any attempts to withdraw from it.

The Reform manifesto says:

Leave the European Convention on Human Rights

Commence reform of the Human Rights Act so that it puts the rights of law-abiding people first.

And

Propose a Comprehensive Free Speech Bill

Legislate to stop left-wing bias and politically correct ideology that threatens personal freedom and democracy. No more de-banking, cancel culture, left wing hate mobs or political bias in public institutions.

The Scottish Green manifesto says:

The UK Government […] is also threatening to tear up the system that protects the human rights of us all, and remove international checks against UK actions to undermine human rights.

And

Ensuring the UK remains a member of the European Convention on Human Rights. Despite originally stating its commitment to ECHR, the UK Government has subsequently threatened to leave over its inhumane ‘stop the boats’ policy on migration. Leaving ECHR will threaten a wide range of fundamental human rights we have benefitted from for decades, and the Scottish Greens will continue to defend our membership.

And

Protecting the Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act is essential in supporting the rights of us all, but the most vulnerable in particular. The next UK Government should guarantee that the Human Rights Act should be preserved and extended, and that our rights will continue to be protected by the European Court of Human Rights. In an independent Scotland, human rights law and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights will have the protection of being part of a written constitu­tion, making it much harder than it is now to undermine people’s rights

Online regulation

The Liberal Democrat manifesto says:

Require social media companies to publish reports setting out the action they have taken to address online abuse against women and girls, and other groups who share a protected characteristic.

The Reform manifesto says:

Review the Online Safety Bill

Social media giants that push baseless transgender ideology and divisive Critical Race theory should have no role in regulating free speech.

Other reserved regulation

The Conservative manifesto says:

We have already stopped the routine use by the NHS of puberty blockers for gender dysphoria and will legislate to permanently prevent their private prescription and supply.

Asylum and international relations

The Conservative manifesto says:

We will support marginalised communities in the developing world and protect those persecuted for their ethnicity, political views, faith or sexuality.

The Liberal Democrat manifesto says:

Provide safe and legal routes to sanctuary for refugees by offering asylum to people fleeing the risk of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identification, ending the culture of disbelief for LGBT+ asylum seekers, and never refusing an LGBT+ applicant on the basis that they could be discreet.

And

Protect, defend and promote human rights for all around the world by developing a comprehensive strategy for promoting the decriminalisation of homosexuality and advancing LGBT+ rights.

The Scottish Green manifesto says:

Actively support the work of human rights defenders worldwide, including those defending women’s and LGBTQIA+ human rights.

The Scottish Parliament

The Conservative manifesto says:

We are clear that on fundamental matters of personal identity there should be one approach across the country, so we will also legislate so that an individual can only have one sex in the eyes of the law in the United Kingdom. [this means removing the power from the Scottish Parliament to amend gender recognition law]

The Scottish Green manifesto says:

Cancelling the undemocratic block on Scotland’s gender recognition reforms. A majority of the Scottish Parliament, including MSPs from all parties, supported making it easier and less intrusive for transgender people to get legal recognition of their gender identity, but this has been blocked by the UK Government. Greens will be calling on the new Secretary of State for Scotland to immediately allow the legislation to proceed.

And

The Scotland Act must be amended to remove Section 35, which grants a veto power to the Secretary of State for Scotland. This was used to block royal assent of the Gender Recognition Reform bill, and the subsequent Court of Session case confirmed that it could be used even when there is agreement that legislation is within the devolved competencies of the Scottish Parliament. This has set a dangerous precedent for future UK Governments hostile to the principles of devolution, and must be addressed to restore full decision making powers to Holyrood.

Join our eNewsletter

Join 20,000 people and sign up to our mailing list today. View previous newsletters here.

30 Bernard Street
Edinburgh EH6 6PR