I am a life-long supporter of human rights and much of my personal charitable giving is to organisations that help the cause and those affected by torture.
As a Liberal Democrat I believe that human rights are vitally important and must be upheld at all times. I am proud that the Liberal Democrats in government have put respect for human rights and international law at the heart of the Britain’s foreign policy. This includes working for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide, torture prevention, freedom of religion and tackling female genital mutilation (FGM).
In opposition, Liberal Democrats supported the introduction of the Human Rights Act and in government, Liberal Democrats have stopped the Conservatives from scrapping the Human Rights Act. We believe that you cannot just pick and choose who is entitled to human rights as the Conservatives are proposing. You can back the Liberal Democrat campaign on this issue here.
We objected to many of the draconian measures the last Labour government introduced as part of the War on Terror. Liberal Democrats were the only mainstream party to oppose the illegal war in Iraq. We also stood up for civil liberties by objecting to the introduction of ID cards and were successful in stopping Labour from introducing 90 day detention without trial. One of the first things the Liberal Democrats did in government was to scrap ID cards. Liberal Democrats supported the judge-led inquiry into allegations of British complicity in the improper treatment of detainees in counter-terrorism operations too. The abuse of human rights that have taken place in the name of the War on Terror are utterly reprehensible. The lack of transparency under the previous government damaged our reputation at home and around the world.
We’re leading the way in championing the rule of law overseas and are working with NGOs and the UN on torture prevention initiatives.
My party’s policy is that there should be a presumption of denial when considering granting arms export licences bound for countries listed in the most recent Foreign Office Human Rights and Democracy Report.
In the last five years Liberal Democrats have made tackling violence against women and girls a top priority. Liberal Democrat International Development and Home Office ministers have been campaigning for an end to the practice of FGM worldwide within a generation. We’re spending £35 million over five years to help reduce it by 30% in ten priority countries across the world. When we entered government we created the first British Ministerial Champion for Tackling Violence Against Women and Girls Overseas, also an international first. We are committed to this role and are campaigning to make sure it continues in the next parliament regardless of the outcome of the election.
I was proud that Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has described LGBT rights as human rights. The Liberal Democrats were central to delivering equal marriage and same sex couples would not be able to get married in this parliament if it wasn’t for our involvement. We’ve come a long way on LGBT issues in Britain but we recognise there is still much more to do at home but especially abroad.
We can’t dictate how other nations behave but I want us to promote the principles we believe in – of a fair and open society both in Britain and abroad. I believe in the principle that you should leave no one behind – regardless of race, gender, age, creed, or sexual orientation. Everyone is entitled to human rights and equality.