GT Scene

"We must do more", Ed Miliband gives tell-all interview to GT

What can the Labour leader do for us now?

In the current issue of GT, we chatted with the three most powerful men in Britain. David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband talked exclusively with GT, ahead of the first same-sex marriages in England and Wales. Now, just hours from those very first marriages taking place, Ed Miliband has gone deeper into his vision for LGBT people in Britain - talking of trans rights, homophobia in sport and the serious stigma around HIV.

To read all three features, and what else Ed Miliband had to say, you can download the issue at the GT digital website or download the app from iTunes straight to you device.

Here's what the Labour leader had to say...

The numbers of young gay men contracting HIV has rocketed in recent years. What should the government do to tackle this problem?

Thirty years after HIV sprang to public awareness in Britain, it remains a huge challenge.

It is particularly concerning that around a quarter of those with HIV are unaware they have it, and the majority who are diagnosed are diagnosed late. That’s why we must make reducing undiagnosed HIV a national priority.

We must do more to tackle the stigma around HIV testing and ensure that tests are more widely available, for example in GP practices or community health centres. We need to get a sense of urgency around HIV, and encourage young gay men to get tested. The introduction of self-testing kits in Britain this year will also be an important step forward.

What should the government doing to encourage LGBT visibility in sport?

The lack of LGBT visibility in sport is really concerning.

We have seen some welcome progress recently, with Tom Daly, Gareth Thomas and Thomas Hitzlsperger all coming out as high profile sportspeople.

But it is clear that more needs to be done to ensure LGBT athletes and fans feel included and welcomed across the sporting field. In 21st century Britain, being LGBT should not be a barrier to anyone enjoying or taking part in sport, at whatever level.

What plans do you have to make the same-sex marriage bill more trans friendly, such as making it easier to transition within existing marriages?

The Same Sex Marriage bill included a provision to enable married couples – where one spouse was transgender – to remain married when that spouse receives legal gender recognition.

This was very welcome.

However, given recent developments in Scotland to remove the so-called ‘spousal veto’ over gender recognition, I think there is a case for looking again at the provisions within the Same Sex Marriage legislation to see whether changes could be made to achieve a fairer balance between the rights of both spouses.

School is often the toughest time for people coming to terms with being gay. Does the use of words like 'gay' and other slurs in the classroom matter?

There should be a zero tolerance approach to homophobic bullying in all schools.

Schools should be safe environments, conducive to learning, enquiry and discovery.
They should be spaces for young people to develop as individuals.

This is really important. I will continue to raise awareness on this issue and hope that together we can make homophobic bullying a thing of the past.

I recently visited Blatchington Mill School in Hove – the school has an excellent record on combating homophobic bullying and has been recognised by Stonewall for its work.

The Government Equalities Office Anti-Homophobia and Transphobia Sports Charter is generally considered to pay little more than lip service. What would your government going to do to ensure a safe environment for fans?

It is vital that fans can enjoy attending sports events regardless of their sexuality. Sport is one of our great British obsessions, and we can’t simply ignore the difficult issues around creating a safe environment for athletes and fans.

In recent years, sports like football have taken major strides in combating racism on the terraces – the same level of focus needs to be given to tackling homophobia and transphobia to ensure fans can get on and enjoy the sports we all love.

Do you believe that gender re-assignment surgery should be available on the NHS, equally, wherever you are in the country?

There are significant variations in access to gender identity services across England and it is important this is tackled. I know this is an issue of major concern within the transgender community: these concerns must be addressed.

There is currently an England-wide ‘protocol’ on gender identity services to try to tackle the equity of access issues that patients currently experience, and I am pleased to hear that NHS England is now working to produce a single and consistent policy for the whole of England. It is important that they work with the transgendered community in taking this forward.

Words: Benjamin Butterworth / @benjaminbutter

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