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International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia

Volume 611: debated on Thursday 26 May 2016

6. What plans the Government have to mark International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia 2016. (905117)

The UK is proud of its record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, which is why the Prime Minister and I hosted a reception at No. 10 to mark IDAHOT. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has announced that approximately £900,000 from the Magna Carta fund for human rights and democracy will go to projects working with LGBT communities around the world. Several Departments, including mine, also flew the rainbow flag in a show of support.

And a lovely reception it was too! This year, IDAHOT drew everyone’s attention to the importance of institutions being able to further LGBT rights. To mark the day, I joined Members from across this House and the other place to highlight the benefits of our membership of the EU to further those rights. Does the Minister agree that the EU has done an awful lot to protect the rights of minority communities across the UK and EU?

I agree that it was an extremely enjoyable reception and that the EU plays a key role in improving the lives of LGBT people in Britain, the EU and internationally. We work closely with the Commission, the Council, the European Parliament and member states to improve the lives of LGBT people across Europe. Through our membership of an EU national focal points network, we can share our approach to LGBT equality law across Europe.

11. According to recent figures published by Transgender Europe, there have been 117 murders of trans and gender-diverse people in Europe since 2008. Will the Minister commit to working with our European partners to end transphobia across our continent? (905122)

The hon. Lady raises a really important point. It is why our membership of international networks, including the EU, is so important. I am proud to say that the UK can lead the way in tackling homophobia, biphobia and transphobia. We are also investing money, of course, in our own schools to make sure that the next generation shows tolerance towards everybody.

Notwithstanding the benefits, or otherwise, of the EU, would my right hon. Friend agree that one of the best ways of marking this international day is better forms of screening for diseases that affect LGBT people, one of which, of course, is the human papilloma virus?

Putting our differences aside on the EU, I am delighted to say that the public health Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea (Jane Ellison), today laid a written ministerial statement in the House stating that from June this year Public Health England will start a pilot to see whether it is possible to offer the HPV vaccination to men who have sex with men and are attending sexual health service clinics. The pilot will eventually reach up to 40,000 men at high risk of attracting HPV. I hope that the House will welcome this move.

13. A transgender constituent of mine who is being held in custody is having a very difficult time in a men’s prison. The Minister will recall that two transgender women died in men’s prisons at the back end of last year. We were promised a review. What discussions has she had with the Justice Secretary and how close are we to some outcomes from that review? (905125)

If the hon. Gentleman wants to raise a specific case with Ministers, we will be pleased to look at it. The Government are firmly committed to ensuring that the needs of transgender prisoners are fully met. The Ministry of Justice has carried out the review and it will be published shortly.

The global focus of this year’s international day against homophobia, transphobia and biphobia was mental health and wellbeing. Does the Minister share my concerns about the impact that local government cuts are having on LGBT mental health organisations in the UK, and will she take steps to protect LGBT mental health services?

I agree with the hon. Lady that mental health services are incredibly important for all people. This issue has been raised with me by members of the trans community and more broadly. I cannot agree with her that this has been caused by changes to local government finance. There is a much broader issue of making sure that services are available to people as and when they most need them.