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What Will Brexit Mean for Diversity?

Posted by
7th July 2016


What will Brexit, Britain leaving the EU, mean for Diversity

Last week’s referendum vote to leave the European Union has sent shockwaves up and down the country and leaders across the UK are debating the possible consequences for our industries and economy. Brexit has the potential to significantly impact diversity and those who identify as part of a minority group, not only in the UK but across Europe and around the world – and in some cases people are already being affected:

  • EU citizens working in the UK contribute significantly to our economy, business and public services; we don’t yet know how much they will be affected, but hope that their contribution will continue to be recognised by industries, the public sector and the government. As the Leave campaign has not officially called for deportation those from the EU already living in the UK will likely be able to remain indefinitely, and if we negotiate to keep freedom of movement the 3million EU citizens in the UK will be unaffected. However, the Leave campaign’s promise to reduce immigration will see the UK government under intense pressure to withdraw from the freedom of movement law, which may require EU citizens to obtain legal documentation before being able to live and work in the UK.
  • Pro-Leave politicians have long been in favour of withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights and scrapping the Human Rights Act in favour of a newly-drafted British Bill of Rights. If created and passed, the new legislation would likely incorporate many of the revolutionary rights and protections afforded by the European Union. However, as demonstrated by California’s turbulent history with LGBT rights governments are often influenced by public opinion and can forcibly remove rights from its citizens; regarding those laws likely to be upheld, there are no guarantees around the extent to which rights covering workplace discrimination and maternity pay would be protected.
  • More than 100 racial hate crimes have been reported in the few days since the EU referendum and with immigration reportedly a leading factor in the Leave vote these racist attacks are believed to be directly linked to Brexit. Whatever the outcome of the freedom of movement negotiations, EU immigrants, non-EU immigrants and UK citizens of ethnic minority could continue to suffer increased levels of prejudice, discrimination and racially motivated violence.
  • And lastly, what will Britain’s Leave vote mean for the rights and freedoms of women, LGBT+ citizens, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities in EU member states? European LGBT rights activists fear that without the UK’s voice as a long-standing proponent of equality and human rights progression, the remaining EU members will find it harder to support minorities in European countries with poorer human rights records.

The uncertainty of the current political climate reinforces the need to continue supporting and championing diversity and inclusion everywhere. By exercising our rights to vote for party leaders, defending those under attack from discrimination and promoting unity and equality, we can protect diverse and minority groups whatever the outcomes of Brexit.

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