The fight for equality and our civil liberties

How we can protect civil liberties

As someone fundamentally liberal, I strongly oppose curbs to our civil liberties. The rise in authoritarianism around the globe drove me into politics, and I am delighted Centre continues to oppose crackdowns on our democratic and human rights. I wholeheartedly support Jasneet’s recent article setting out our opposition to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, a bill that would incriminate protestors and restrict the right to voice criticism of the government.

Further to this, the Conservative government has promised to repeal the Human Rights Act. This would pull the UK backward and threaten to restrict the rights of those already oppressed. The Act is a safeguard for rights and has been used to further the promotion of liberty and equality against the wishes of successive governments.

Another area I am glad to see Centre focus on is the rights of transgender and gender-non-conforming identities. The UK’s law in this area is severely outdated. The Gender Recognition Act is cumbersome, confused, and humiliating. It does not give transgender people the dignity nor the action they deserve.

Moreover, while the Equalities Act makes gender identity a protected characteristic, it upholds the obsolete binary by specifically excluding non-binary and gender-non-conforming identities. As opposed to Germany or Denmark, the UK lacks a legally legitimate third gender category. This absurdity is highlighted in the case of Taylor v JLR (2020). Taylor faced discriminated because they identified as non-binary, however, in the legal documentation they were referred to as Ms Taylor throughout, at once undermining the very identity they were aiming to defend.

These inequalities reflect a broader systemic issue. Inequalities in our health service has contributed to the disproportionate affects of Covid-19 on people from ethnic minority backgrounds. They are also more likely to suffer from PTSD and other mental health problems. Paradoxically and cruelly, they are the least likely to have access to the mental health support services they need.

Inequalities between mental and physical health must also be alleviated, bringing the two into parity. Mental health issues have increased dramatically during the pandemic, creating a second invisible epidemic. Mental health services need reform, funding, and greater support in order to truly address the crisis we face.

I look forward to continuing and furthering the debate on these issues with Centre. A cross-party, non-partisan approach is needed to address these systemic inequalities, and to oppose the illiberal erosion of our rights. From non-selective state education and a fair criminal justice system to opposing trans exclusion and increasing foreign aid – Centre can continue to develop policies that remove structural inequalities and help the most oppressed flourish and succeed.

About the author

Jake Poulton

Jake was our Head of Policy and Partnerships for Centre. He now sits as a Charity Trustee, runs Strategic Communications for Our Generation for Inclusive Peace and works in Public Affairs Officer at the Nursing and Midwifery Council. Jake was also the Public Affairs Coordinator for Red Cross Policy.