British rights and freedoms are under threat. Labour and Tory MPs consistently vote for new laws that curtail civil liberties and state intelligence agencies routinely invade our privacy.
Britain’s immigration system is in desperate need of reform. Decades of incompetence and cruelty by Labour and Tory Home Secretaries have shattered confidence in the system.
Whether by righting past wrongs, protecting citizens, or increasing freedom, the Liberal Democrats believe that legislation defending rights and liberties protects individuals and drives opportunity for many under-represented groups.
Liberal Democrats oppose all discrimination and believe that government should take an active role both in punishing discrimination and in ensuring it does not happen in the first place. Our society is only strong once it includes everybody – regardless of their background.
The Liberal Democrats demand better. We demand a freer society where rights and liberties are protected. And we demand dignity for migrants and refugees, and an immigration system that works for everyone
To extend diversity in public life and business, we will:
- Fund more extensive childcare, and provide better back-to-work support to reach an ambitious goal of a million more women in work by 2025.
- Continue the drive for diversity in business leadership, pushing for at least 40% of board members being women in FTSE 350 companies and implementing the recommendations of the Parker review to increase ethnic minority representation.
- Extend the Equality Act to all large companies with over 250 employees, requiring them to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps.
- Extend the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and encourage their use in the private sector.
- Require diversity in Public Appointments. We will introduce a presumption that every shortlist should include at least one BAME candidate.
- Extend requirements on companies to strengthen responsibility for supply chains, focus on good practice in tackling modern slavery, including training for police and prosecutors in identifying and supporting victims and implement the Ewins’ report recommendations on domestic workers.
To safeguard rights and promote equalities, we will:
- Campaign to reduce intolerance, including anti-Semitism, and hate crimes alongside organisations such as Show Racism the Red Card, the Anne Frank Trust UK, and Kick It Out.
- Ask the Advisory Committee on Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs periodically to review rules around men who have sex with men and other related groups donating blood to consider what restrictions remain necessary.
- Guarantee the freedom of people to wear religious or cultural dress, and tackle the growing incidence of Islamophobic hate crime.
- Introduce an ‘X’ option on passports, identity documents, and official forms for those who do not wish to identify as either male or female, and campaign for their introduction in the provision of other services e.g. utilities.
- Decriminalise the sale and purchase of sex, and the management of sex work – reducing harm, defending sex workers’ human rights, and focusing police time and resources on those groomed, forced, or trafficked into the sex industry. We would provide additional support for those wishing to leave sex work.
- Strengthen legal rights and obligations for couples by introducing mixed sex civil partnerships and extending rights to cohabiting couples.
- Extend protection of gender reassignment in equality law to also explicitly cover gender identity and expression, streamline and simplify the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to allow individuals to change their legal gender without unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles, for example the intrusive medical tests currently required.
- Remove the spousal veto, and abolish remaining marriage inequalities in areas such as pensions, hospital visitation rights, and custody of children in the event of bereavement.
- Develop a government-wide plan to tackle BAME inequalities, and review the Equality and Human Rights Commission to determine whether it is effectively fulfilling its role and whether its funding is adequate.
- Increase accessibility to public places and transport by making more stations wheelchair accessible, improving the legislative framework governing Blue Badges, setting up a benchmarking standard for accessible cities, and bringing into effect the provisions of the 2010 Equality Act on discrimination by private hire vehicles and taxis.
- Address period poverty by providing free sanitary products to girls at school.
- Outlaw caste discrimination.
- Enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in UK law.