Given that I post about LGBT rights rather a lot, it is probably a bit over the top to do a special post just because it is the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. However, I did have something I wanted to talk about.
Last week the UK Parliament published the first reports from the All Party Parliamentary Group for Global LGBT Rights. The Secretary of the group is Ben Howlett, the MP for Bath, and it is this work that Ben principally wanted to talk about when I arranged for him to meet Stuart Milk in February.
You can find a copy of the full report here (PDF). As we have a Conservative government, they have the some of the most senior posts. The Chair is Nick Herbert, and of course Ben is a Tory too. However, the group is genuinely cross-party, with representatives from Labour, the SNP, the LibDems and the Greens.
One of the more notable things about the report is that it doesn’t just bash foreign governments. It is openly critical of both the Foreign Office and the Home Office. The former, under Philip Hammond, has significantly backtracked on its support for LGBT rights around the world. The latter has a major problem with how LGBT asylum seekers are treated.
The report quotes a number of academic studies and will this be very useful to Berkeley and I when we are putting together evidence in Diversity Trust work. It will probably seem all very dry and impersonal to many of you, but this sort of thing is necessary to convince governments.
In addition the report majors on the economic benefits of equality. Persecuting some 10% of your population just because they are LGBT is not a recipe for good government. It isn’t even a recipe for good corporate governance. The chart below shows how the share prices of companies with strong equality policies are well above the average. There are, of course, many possible explanations for that, but a happy and diverse workforce is certainly one of them. Public confidence in the company many be another.
Some of you are doubtless shaking your heads and saying that people shouldn’t need an economic incentive to treat others with fairness and respect, but again this sort of thing works. One of the biggest problems we have with selling diversity training is that far too many companies see no benefit in doing it. The big stick of compliance with the Equality Act can only take you so far. You need a carrot too.