Education Secretary Justine Greening has said no equality legislation will be compromised on leaving the EU.
The Conservative candidate, who is also Minister for Women and Equalities, gave the strongest guarantee yet that Brexit won’t result in equality legislation being dropped.
Speaking at the LGBT Hustings, hosted by Stonewall, Pride in London and PinkNews at the LSE, Greening was asked about protection for the Human Rights Act.
“Quite simply, we are 100% committed to ensuring all existing rights, however the legal framework changes in relation to leaving the European Union.
“We will make sure we have no backward steps in this area through leaving the European Union.”
The Conservative claim is the boldest yet, with many fearing rights will be compromised when EU laws are translated into domestic law.
Greening added: “I get a bit frustrated if I’m honest about people saying they’re really worried about this, that and the other, when I don’t think I or my party can be clearer.
“Why would we have any intention of unpicking all of this stuff?”
The Equalities Minister continued: “We’re going to continue extending rights for the LBGT+ community.
“We don’t want to see them backslid at all.”
The comments come despite the Conserve Party previously pledging to repeal the Human Rights Act after Brexit.
In their previous manifesto the party pledged to scrap the 1998 Human Rights Act and replace it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’.
Articles 8 and 14 of the Human Rights Act, which afford protection from discrimination and the right to family life, have been used in many legal cases to argue for equal treatment of LGBT people, and were integral in early LGBT rights victories.
Shadow Equalities Minister Sarah Champion said this is one of the issues that “scares her most”.
The Labour candidate said: “This is about the Equalities and Human Rights Council we have now, and under this government it has lost 70% of its funding.
“It is on its knees at the moment. So what we’re saying is that we will resume it to the right level of funding and make sure that it is truly independent, as it’s currently under Justine’s department.”
The Liberal Democrats, Green Party and Women’s Equality Party were also in attendance at the hustings, all pledging to protect rights currently held.