The LGB&T Dorset Equality Network is pleased to issue the Open Letter below to the leaders of the four main (Westminster) political parties — Conservative / Labour / Liberal Democrat / SNP — on the occasion of the General Election.
Date: 2nd December 2019
Dear Mr Johnson, Mr Corbyn, Ms Swinson, and Ms Sturgeon,
As leaders of the four main political parties of the recently dissolved Westminster Parliament, the LGB&T Dorset Equality Network provides to each of you on behalf of the LGBT community (6%+ of the total UK population and our Dorset area) this Open Letter on the particularly important occasion of this the General Election of 2019.
This letter has been proposed by many within our community, as the election provides a rare, precious opportunity for direct, unfiltered, communication between citizens and voters with your respected selves.
The LGB&T Dorset Equality Network brings before you in this Open Letter two particular matters of true national interest and importance that we request you to kindly provide us with timely and clear responses to.
This request made for constructive a-party political, LGB&T community supportive reasons as will be readily seen by the details and related considerations provided below on the two different, yet at some points interconnected matters that we submit for your respective direct reflections and related formal responses as leaders of your respective political parties.
You will understand, we are sure, outside of those times for the given party in government that there does actually exist a very real, and unhealthy in a parliamentary democracy, degree of often unacceptable extent of gate-keeping filtering and de-facto blocking of direct voter – politician communication by unelected civil servants.
Historically speaking our Civil Service has many great and rightly justified credits to its name, but sadly in the past 20 years and especially in the 2012 onwards ‘Hostile Environment’ era in particular this record has been undeniably tarnished by elements of Whitehall that have de-facto in the name of serving Parliament and Nation in fact introduced dangerous to human rights, a free and professional justice system, and to parliamentary democracy itself revealed conduct, that no elected politician (representative and protector of the voter the latter represent and are empowered by) can ignore.
There are continuing exceptional devoted civil servants in public service in Whitehall and across our nation, but they have increasingly over the past two decades and especially since 2012 been all too commonly exceptions which stand in contrast to a very different rule of an all powerful bureaucracy that has shown itself all too comfortable with seeking maximum non-transparency and unaccountability.
This opportunity to communicate with you is therefore a most rare and mutually valuable one, as citizens & voters faith in political parties is in reality often made, or more often broken not on the delivery of you our elected politicians, but in whether or not from local government to national government levels there is serious respect for in practice delivering in meaningful effective ways the manifesto commitments of political parties.
We ask, you therefore to respond to two particular contexts – one local government level, and a further one national (detailed in the second part of this open letter) – and to commit in concrete terms to support each of our requests for hands-on meaningful change and action in the two areas detailed.
Our first request for action:
We ask you all to in terms of your manifesto commitments LGB&T remits delivery to ensure that whichever party (parties) win the General election that your LGB&T remits include ensuring that all executive to frontline levels officers & staff of public service organisations, local authorities, and national agencies/services, are requested to provide and implement the following:
- Implementation strategies for their LGB&T E&D policies
- Having those strategies monitored by local area to national independent LGBT community organisations / respected community leads
- That those strategies assessment is embedded in government inspectorates both regular and unannounced inspections of public service organisations, local authorities, and national agencies delivery, and where best practice, especially enthusiastic best practice energetically demonstrated, that is highlighted and rewarded.
Some Dorset area context to the above:
In some regards in the Dorset area whilst there are some honourable best practice examples, it is still in some directions common practice of putting effort to implement the legal provisions and the spirit of the Equality Act 2010 very low on the priorities list for taking action, even sometimes when almost all the work has already been completed from the LGBT community side. A case of, figuratively speaking, a sea of ‘can’t do’ ‘not today’ ‘brush off apathy’ being perceived as an unspoken but discernible (from the community’s side) unstated policy and tactic. We would like to share with you after the election some of the experiences that LGBT+ and LGBT+ Allies all too commonly, to their dismay and consternation experience.
The Ask for Clive campaign is a major national phenomenon that has been a reaction to this, seeing that the private sector is much more ready, commonly, than those in the public services & local authorities bureaucracies with mandatory requirement to implement the provisions and protections of the Equality Act 2010 in real practical day to day life and services provision terms. In Dorset we have seen both exceptional positive opportunities embracing Ask for Clive’s potential to highlight or initiate best practice around LGBT safety and welcome, and in contrast some awful perceived ‘lets push this in to the long grass’ ones that can only be considered as reactions based in unstated homophobic standpoints or protective of those whom it must be believed hold views that regard LGBT inclusion and welcome, as undesirable. We would like to share our experiences with each of you to inform action and policy.
Second request for your intervention and responses:
Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd on the Whitehall directed & implemented UK Immigration system in the age of the ‘Hostile Environment
‘ .. She wished she had looked into immigration enforcement “much earlier” but had been misled by some civil servants, she told the BBC. “Unfortunately, I was told certain things that turned out not to be true.” “I would like to get immigration enforcement right. I think that there is a problem there and it needs some really careful analysis and a brutal look at who’s doing what and who’s got what powers where.”
Queer asylum seekers likely due compensation after supreme court rules Home Office unlawfully imprisoned thousands
The Home Office “falsely imprisoned” countless queer asylum seekers who are now entitled to damages, the highest court in the UK ruled. Five Supreme Court judges this week ruled that many dreamers who lost liberty at the hands of the government are viable for compensation packages that may run into millions of pounds, reported The Guardian. Many refugees are survivors of torture or persecution, some queer seekers fleeing from countries where their very existence itself is illegal.
The two details above give direct contexts regarding our second request for your requested focused action, on a national (and international) level a matter of the greatest importance. Namely to address the LGB&T human rights & maltreatment context of the Hostile Environment. On this the LGB&T Dorset Equality Network has extensive expertise and a successful record at national & parliamentary select committee level of support to LGB&T victims of the Hostile Environment and challenging implementers of the latter.
We have three main requests for your study and investigation with a view to subsequent requested independent inquiry. These requests are:
- To investigate the operational level substantial multiagency interconnections between especially the directing source of the Hostile Environment (the UKVI and Border Force & IE [Immigration Enforcement] agencies that superseded the UK Border Agency in 2012) and its de-facto effective heart, the Immigration Tribunal, whose record is increasingly compromising the good name of the British justice system itself. To do so will provide an invaluable service to democracy and accountability and transparency values being restored to all of the agencies involved and counteracting perceived bullying by the state of Hostile Environment victims.
- Current LGB&T engagement & communication E&D training provided to the primary Hostile Environment de-facto implementing agencies (UKVI, IE & Border Force) and secondary and tertiary ones (from IRC/deportation centres to sub-contractors) be reviewed by an independent inquiry and/or appropriate Select Committee. Effective training is clearly not being provided and government watchdogs whilst indirectly expressing awareness of this, fail to understand its serious significance.
- Home Office statements issued in response to human rights abuses and other scandals: Action on the well-known infamous discord between generally perceived disingenuous Home Office statements on respecting human rights & LGBT human rights and being professional in discharging UK immigration services, and the often horrific very different revealed record of statistics and direct victims of Hostile Environment institutionalised bullying & intimidation. These statements, when unchallenged effectively bring government and politicians into disrepute, and yet we know originate from unaccountable elements within Whitehall.
In regard to this particular point we wish each of you to be aware of just how deeply offensive our community members and LGBT Allies here and around the world find it when unnamed Home Office Officials make statements about the ‘Home Office having a proud record on LGBT human rights …. etc. etc. ad nauseum’ This in defiance of the grotesque facts and statistics about readiness to send genuine LGBT asylum seekers to their deaths, force them to conceal (as was the case in pre 1967 Britain and even today some parts of rural Dorset) who they are and who they love, attempt to break up marriages, and it appears in some cases to even propose Christianity as a solution to their sexual orientation. The scale of Home Office ECOs & caseworkers refusals of genuine LGBT community members, and frankly the complicity of in many cases certain elements of the Immigration Tribunal in this (the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal being so different and truly independent of the Home Office) is shocking and should be the first point of call in regard to the training related independent scrutiny we have requested.
Please do all you can to ensure these offensive statements cease, or at least names and posts of those who utter them are given!
We kindly request that you each as leaders of your parties commit to investigate the mechanisms behind this offensive phenomenon, and to take action to end the latter within three to six months of taking office and/or continuing in office alone or as part of a coalition/alliance government.
We in conjunction with other participating organisations and one business (Lush: that enabled the initial preparation time to be funded), and a much larger group of supportive organisations (national and international, LGBT and other) working to provide dissemination, have led on developing a ‘Need to Know – Immigration UK’ online resource. This to support effective independent scrutiny and auditing of the areas of the Hostile Environment at operational level detailed above, and more broadly.
This resource is being disseminated in two phases, the first this month of December 2019 and the second in the January/February 2020 period. We will however be able to provide you each with a more comprehensive e-book, elements of which are being provided in the two-phase released online information resource. This e-book we will provide to you on 16th December for your kindly requested direct personal study as both politicians and human beings.
In their essentials the three requests detailed in regard to investigation of operational level Home Office & Immigration Tribunal led Hostile Environment directly connect to the substance detailed in our first request above – matters of LGBT and broader community confidence in government and accountability and transparency evidencing in those delivering such services.
That common denominator being to ensure those who carry out Acts of Parliament legal requirements at real-life and operational implementation level on your, our elected politicians and subsequently protectors of our human and civil rights, do so, and that the will of our voters expressed through elections (national and local) are effectively carried out in uninterrupted ways.
Some further detail in support to the above and important related issues that we believe you may each be aware of:
We do not believe the LGB&T inclusion, equality and anti-discrimination training that is provided to those in the Hostile Environment implementing services, agencies, entities and subcontracted for profit companies such as UKVI caseworkers and ECOs and many Immigration Tribunal judges, is credible – on the basis of extensive unanswerably clear evidence — in terms of respecting international human rights and protections for LGB&T people or conforming with the legal requirements of the Equality Act 2010 in any substantive, clear ways.
There exists a culture in political debate of assuming that immigration (& emigration) is exclusively a matter of overseas nationals looking solely for economic benefit, and this assumption being inadequately challenged. Love knows know borders, whether that be the love of genuine committed partners (including married and civil partners) and of course families.
The current UK immigration Hostile Environment, Whitehall directed and implemented, has infamously shown itself to target in multiple ways such partners or family love that crosses borders, to the shame of the British name. We where you stand or will stand in the post 2019 General Election context on ensuring the implementers & enforcers of the operational level Hostile Environment revoke in transparent, measurable ways the culture they have creating of targeting those (including British Citizens who have love & marriages that cross borders) whose ‘crime’ is to love somebody who is not a British national.
The Whitehall so-called ‘Mandarins’ (Permanent Secretaries) and the senior directors and chief operating officers of Whitehall adjunct agencies such as Immigration Enforcement [IE] and the UKVI, and those with executive authority in close operational level contact with the UKVI at the Immigration Tribunal, responsible for planning the implementation and in charge of the delivery of the Hostile Environment are ultimately public/civil servants that should be acting to implement the will of parliament and elected politicians party political manifestos.
We believe that in Whitehall and the agencies and Tribunal that there is an unstated, but very real culture of pre-Equality Act 2010 (and some may even feel pre 1967) attitudes and unstated perspectives where LGBT safety and human rights inclusion are concerned. That many of the malpractices revealed on handling of LGBT cases of known, demonstrably genuine applicants and their British national same-sex partners have been carried out with full knowledge of and de-facto contempt for those who have to bear extreme sometimes fatal costs.
In the case of the Hostile Environment this has never been the case as, almost all effort has gone into (indicating the perceived personal prejudice values and motivations of those involved in planning and operational level delivery) harassing and persecuting those who have been known to be genuine applicants [on partnerships/marriages, and immediate family basis], whilst at the same time as the recent Channel 4 ‘Smuggled’ series has demonstrated, leaving UK borders wide open to terrorists and illegal migration (that is to say nothing about the revelations on the so-called ‘Golden Visas’ regime). This is a record not only of inhumanity and brutality, but grotesque and dangerous incompetence. Not one of your manifestos in this or previous general elections ever designated genuine applicants to be targeted and a de-facto ‘open borders’ regime to be put in practice by Whitehall directed our bureaucrats.
We must give an example of their harm to the state due to inexperience or wilful contempt for diverse communities and the parameters in which all of your political parties’ act in terms of respecting the UK and its electorate as multicultural and diverse. For a while the ONS actively considered the inclusion of the Sikh community for a potential dedicated entry on the Census 2021 form.
Unaware or potentially (hopefully not) contemptuous of the race relations and internal UK Sikh community historical dividing lines, their civil servants managed to turn latent friction into real, live major division by seeming to take the side of a minority (25%) of that community that favoured such a dedicated entry, and ignoring the 75% majority that were unambiguously against the latter because of the intra-community divisions it would cause. We use this example to remind you our nation’s main political leaders that it can be disastrous to assume that Whitehall can be competent or have sufficient essential need to know knowledge to make wise decisions in regard to issues of major importance for minority communities.
The Hostile Environment implementation has seen such wont of experience and good judgment on a monstrous, industrial scale, particularly in regard to the de-facto but not officially stated targeting of demonstrably genuine British – international same-sex partners & marriages and asylum seekers.
We look forward to receive your responses to our two-part request and representation, which we would like to publish on our website. Your responses are kindly requested to be provided to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Network believes, as do our many partner organisations and other supporters, that our two-part request to your respected selves for the reasons detailed above in the main part of this Open Letter serve Parliament, good government, beyond our LGBT community.
Concerning publicity / dissemination of this Open Letter, and public dissemination of the formal responses by your respected selves:
We are providing a copy of this open letter on the news page of our LGB&T Dorset Equality Network website news section — http://lgbtdorsetequality.network/news/ — for community members and the broader general public to access, as well as to our extensive partnering networks at national as well as Dorset level.
The Network will provide copies of this open letter, and also later at the time referred to, the e-book resource mentioned above, and any responses you provide to news media. This will give each of your political parties the opportunity to showcase policies you have in your manifestos that support the two representation areas we ask for your intervention in and action on. We do ask you however to respond to the specific questions and related requests made, and not to respond with more general policy or manifesto statements.
We will publish your respective responses on our website as soon as these are received, which will be most valued by the broader LGB&T community, and shared with the LGBT and broader news media.
We thank you each in advance for your consideration on the requests made, and record that this Open Letter is being provided to the following email addresses (Labour Party and SNP) and message facilities (Liberal Democrats and Conservative Party).
For Conservative Party Leader link to this open letter is provided to message facility at: https://www.conservatives.com/contact
For Conservative Party Leader link to this open letter is provided to message facility at: https://www.libdems.org.uk/contact
Convenor/Lead Officer: LGB&T Dorset Equality Network Tel: +44 (0)7811 269 454 Email: email@example.com