A more equal society
The Labour Party is the party of equality and seeks to build a society and world free from all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. Labour has a strong record on progressing women’s rights and freedoms of which we can be proud.
Labour brought in the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Equality Act and the National Minimum Wage. Every progressive piece of equality legislation has only been delivered because of Labour support.
It was a Labour government that enshrined the rights and freedoms contained in the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, marking the birth of the Human Rights Act.
Under the Tories, progress is being rolled back for women, people with disabilities, LGBTI people and Black and Minority Ethnic communities. Cuts to public services and social security are landing disproportionately on women and ethnic minorities, with 86 per cent of the money raised from the Tories’ tax and social security changes coming from the pockets of women.
Devastating cuts to the Equality and Human Rights Commission by the Tories reveal their real attitude, beyond the rhetoric, to issues of equality and discrimination. These cuts have been made amid the rise in hate crime recorded by the police across the UK in the last year.
A Labour government will enhance the powers and functions of this Commission, making it truly independent, to ensure it can support ordinary working people to effectively challenge any discrimination they may face. A Labour government will reinstate the public sector equality duties and seek to extend them to the private sector, ensuring all citizens benefit from this Labour legislation.
The advances for women in Britain and around the world have been fought for, and won by, determined women working together for real change – often in the face of resistance and even abuse.
A Labour government will gender audit all policy and legislation for its impact on women before implementation.
Labour will continue to ensure a woman’s right to choose a safe, legal abortion. We will work with the Assembly to extend that right to women in Northern Ireland.
Scottish Labour opposes any changes to current abortion laws in Scotland.
Violence against women and girls continues to be a global epidemic affecting an estimated one in three women worldwide. In the UK, on average two women are killed by their current or former partner every week.
Labour welcomes the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Bill, creating a new specific offence to help tackle domestic abuse. Scottish Labour has secured three-year rolling funding from the Scottish government for Violence Against Women organisations to ensure they can plan for the long term to help women and girls.
Maternity discrimination under the Tories is out of control, almost doubling in the past ten years.
Many mothers are reluctant to raise complaints about discrimination and unfair treatment in the workplace. Unlawful maternity and pregnancy discrimination is now more common in Britain’s workplaces than ever before, with 54,000 pregnant women and new mothers forced out of their jobs in 2015.
Labour will reverse the unfair employment tribunal fees that price people out of justice. The SNP has the power to do this in Scotland but has failed to act.
Labour will work with the Health and Safety Executive to make a workplace risk assessment for pregnant women mandatory so necessary adaptions can be made, and review support for women who have had miscarriages.
Scottish Labour will introduce a Member’s Bill to tackle the public health issue of period poverty, which prices sanitary products out of the reach of women and girls without the means to purchase what they need.
Labour has a proud record of championing the fight for LGBTI equality. We abolished Section 28 – Section 2A in Scotland – equalised the age of consent, created civil partnerships, and it was only through Labour votes that equal marriage became law across the UK.
But there is still a long way to go on issues such as education, equal access to public services, levels of LGBTI hate crime, and mental and physical wellbeing.
A Labour government will reform the Equality Act 2010 to ensure it protects trans people by changing the protected characteristic of ‘gender assignment’ to ‘gender identity’ and remove other outdated language such as ‘transsexual’.
We would adopt a zero tolerance approach to hate crime, including that motivated by religion, race, sexual orientation and gender identity. But we know that recognition in law can’t be the end of the road – winning over hearts and minds, and changing society’s attitudes, is just as important.
Labour wants every LGBTI person – whether young or old – to be able to live a life free from discrimination, and instead to have an expectation of inclusion in all walks of life, including sport.
Labour would deliver access to consistent sex education which considers LGBTI relationships and sexual health. Labour is fully committed to a strategy for dealing with homophobic, transphobic and biphobic bullying in our schools, and a change in the law so that trans young people can be recognised as the gender they live from the age of 16, rather than 18.
To tackle bullying of LGBTI young people, Labour would ensure that all teachers receive initial and ongoing training on the issues students face and how to address them. And we would ensure that the new guidance for relationships and sex education is LGBTI inclusive.
Likewise, we would ensure all frontline health and social care professionals receive ongoing training to understand and meet the needs of LGBTI patients and service users. Labour backed NHS Scotland’s introduction of PrEP, a preventative treatment for people at risk of, or living with, HIV.
A Labour government will continue to work towards ending the stigma of HIV in society.
Now more than ever, we need to celebrate the profound and enriching transformation brought about by the diversity of people in this country, with all their different experiences, talents and contributions.
Black and Asian-owned businesses are an important and growing feature of our economy and society. These businesses are important not just because of their financial contribution; they have also helped transform particular sectors of the economy.
We should all be deeply troubled by the rise in racially aggravated attacks and race hate crimes since the EU referendum vote. Anti-Semitic incidents are also on the rise once more and we are committed to combating this trend with adequate resources and firm political will.
Commissioning a report on our own party was an unprecedented step in British politics, demonstrating a commitment to tackling prejudice wherever it is found. Labour is already acting on recommendations, including reform of internal disciplinary procedures to make them firmer and fairer, and an expansion of training to tackle anti-Semitism. On a matter of such importance, Labour urges all democratic political parties to do the same.
We will end racism and discrimination against Gypsy/Travellers and Roma communities, and protect the right to lead a nomadic way of life.
Black and Asian workers still suffer a massive pay gap. By introducing equal pay audit requirements on large employers, Labour will close the pay gap. By making the minimum wage a real Living Wage, we will benefit ethnic minority workers who are more likely to be on low pay.
We will implement the Parker Review recommendations to increase ethnic diversity on the boards of Britain’s largest companies.
People with disabilities
Over the last seven years people with disabilities have been failed by the Tory government.
People with disabilities have been vilified with divisive rhetoric like ‘scroungers’ and ‘shirkers’. In this climate, recorded disability hate crime has increased across the UK.
Last year the UN published a report concluding that the Tory government had committed “grave, systematic violations of the rights of persons with disabilities.”
Currently 4.2 million disabled people live in poverty in Britain – 23 per cent of people in families including a disabled adult live in poverty in Scotland – and the disability employment gap remains stubbornly high.
Labour believes in the social model of disability – that it is society which disables people, and it is our job to remove barriers.
The previous Labour government signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). The next Labour government will sign the UNCRPD into UK law.
Labour will act to tackle discrimination, remove barriers, and ensure social security delivers dignity and empowerment, not isolation and stigma. Labour will legislate to make terminal illness a protected characteristic under the Equality Act.
Learning disabilities and autism cover a wide range of conditions that reflect neurological differences among people. We will work with employers, trades unions and public services to improve awareness of neurodiversity in the workplace and society.