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  • Dan Snipe

Welsh Labour Leadership and the LGBTQ+ community

The next first minister has come down to one of two men. Vaughan Gething, current Minister for the Economy of Wales although probably better known for his time as Minister for Health during the pandemic, and Jeremy Miles, the current Minister for Education and Welsh language. On the 21st of February they stood against one another to answer a series of questions from a  Welsh public eager for a positive future. The two Labour men were challenged on the health service, the current ongoing farmers protests and the education system, with a common answer coming from both ‘we await the next budget’. In terms of actual plans and policies the two Senedd members hardly differ. Their answers were almost identical at points once all the fancy political word play is stripped back. Perhaps the only noticeable difference from the debate was the choice of tie the two men went for. The most controversial part of the debate came towards the end, when the moderator challenged Vaughan Gething on donations to his campaign that have recently hit the media.But, all that aside, where do they stand on issues important to the LGBTQ+ community in Wales?It will be important to highlight here that Jeremy Miles is a member of the Welsh LGBTQ+ population and has made the Pinc List twice as part of the 40 most influential LGBT people in Wales. Mr Miles will know first hand the experiences of many queer people living in Wales. He has also stood consistently with the Trans community, which is seemingly a rare trait for our current crop of politicians.Vaughan Gething has had to endure his own hardships in life, and has mentioned the prejudice he has suffered growing up as a mixed race man in Wales. Although not a member of the queer community he has shown his support for LGBTQ+ rights for some time now. 

During the debate there was no mention of any plans for the Welsh LGBTQ+ community, most likely due to the time constraints of the debate itself. The waiting times for the NHS was mentioned by an audience member, and this is something at the heart of the Queer Welsh community. According to Gender Wales, current waiting times for gender related treatment are at 16 months. Research has shown that these waiting times have a terrible impact on the mental wellbeing of those enduring them. Sometimes even factoring in for eventual losses of life. This simply has to be addressed by the next leader, for too long it has been ignored. Apart from a brief mention of waiting lists there was nothing else that explicitly concerned LGBTQ+ issues. So, to find out more, we will have to turn to the candidates' manifestos.In their manifestos, both Mr Miles and Mr Gething have stated their desire to support the current LGBTQ+ action plan which was published in January 2023. The document lays out the government's plan for the improvement of LGBTQ+ lives, covering many issues important to many identities. This action plan has been put in place in order to make Wales the most LGBTQ+ friendly place in Europe. That is obviously a pretty big task given the hardships the queer community are facing at the moment. 

The plan has been praised by politicians and some LGBTQ+ community members, but there are several LGBTQ+ groups that have criticised the document, arguing that it is not proactive enough. It has been a year since the launch of the plan and it is understandable that people have questions about the difference this document is making to the lives of the LGBTQ+ community when for example LGBTQ+ related hate crimes have risen in the last year. Questions about progress against the plan are real and key for whoever is elected as our next First Minister.What this really all comes down to is the aforementioned future budget. A go to word for members of Parliament and the Senedd, it has plagued Welsh politics for some time now. However, there has been a promise from the current leader of the Labour party, Keir Starmer, to give the Welsh budget a boost if he becomes the next Prime Minister. Given the nature of political promises from all parties being all too easily dropped, we can only live in hope.  

So what can the Queer community expect from the next Welsh First Minister? From the sound of it? Nothing immediate. But there is a proposed plan in place, and I'm sure we will all be watching closely in the hope that it becomes a promise fulfilled.


Impact of waiting times on trans individuals: 



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