NI: Andy Burnham to push for sexual and gender rights in NI
Andy Burnham, one of the candidates for the leadership of the UK Labour Party, has called for Northern Ireland to “take a major step forward” in the arena of human rights.
Mr Burnham, seen as the most serious challenger to current frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn, wrote in the Belfast Telegraph: “The whole area of sexual and gender rights in Northern Ireland needs to take a major step forward.”
He criticised Northern Ireland’s blood donation ban for men who have sex with men (MSM) and said he wanted to see equality across the UK.
He wrote: “I have been highly critical in Parliament of Jeremy Hunt for his refusal to support equality across the UK in respect of blood donation from gay men and, as leader, I will use every opportunity to press the Tory Government on these fundamental issues of equality and rights.”
Mr Burnham also gave praise to Labour Party members who were “at the forefront” of campaigning for sexual and gender rights in Northern Ireland.
At the same time, he avoided taking a firm position on whether the London-based party should contest elections in Northern Ireland.
The UK party has a long-standing policy of not contesting elections outwith Great Britain, but maintains fraternal links with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Irish Labour Party.
Mr Burnham wrote: “If decide that, at election time, the people of Northern Ireland need a socialist, non-sectarian party to vote for, a party that can appeal to people of all classes and to people of all faiths or none, then we should not stand in their way.
“If elected leader, I will support an immediate review of the current prohibition on Labour Party candidates and will seek the views of the Irish Labour Party and others, as to how best we can assist the very many Labour Party members and supporters in Northern Ireland.”