The UK is widely recognised as a global champion of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights. We are committed to the principle of non-discrimination on any grounds, including on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identity. It is our belief that LGBT people are not asking for special rights, merely to be accorded the same dignity, respect and rights as all other citizens.
Human rights are universal and apply equally to all, without distinction. The promotion and protection of the LGBT rights is a core part of the UK’s human rights work. There is a high level of public, civil society and parliamentary interest in what we do; all scrutiny and partnership is welcome. The UK government’s work focuses on tackling violence and discriminatory laws and practices; ensuring the full and equal enjoyment of human rights; and promoting equality and acceptance.
We have a great deal to be proud of in the UK – the UK continues to be recognised as one of the most progressive in Europe for LGBT rights by ILGA-Europe, which is testament to the achievements that have been made in recent decades. But we are not complacent: more needs to be done domestically in the UK too e.g. to tackle bullying in schools.
Abroad, our diplomatic network plays a crucial role in promoting inclusion, equality and non-discrimination. This includes encouraging host authorities to take action against violence and discrimination and to repeal discriminatory laws (in particular those which criminalise consensual same-sex relations). British Embassies also support civil society efforts to drive forward change in social attitudes and to bring about legislative reform to secure full equality for LGBT people. In many parts of the world, our efforts have helped bring the issue of discrimination against LGBT people constructively into the local political debate. As well as diplomatic lobbying, we encourage our Embassies to support the efforts of civil society organisations to change laws and social attitudes by supporting human rights defenders during PRIDE and anti-discrimination events, often in countries where such events provoke hostility and violence.
The British Embassy Helsinki is committed to promoting and protecting the rights of LGBT people. We seek advice from local LGBT civil society groups; they know what they want and what works best to realise it. We partner with SETA and businesses such as Accenture, help lead the diplomatic community in the celebration of PRIDE, and promote LGBT and gender equality at our events. We share best practice with Finnish colleagues in government and out, including, for example, how LGBT rights are tackled in education and the armed forces and police. We welcome the fact that the new Finnish Government has promised to pass legislation to improve the rights of transgender people, and look forward to swift implementation. In every country, including the UK, the route to full diversity and freedom of expression is a long one. We are pleased to join Finland and its people on their own journey.
Tom Dodd has been Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Helsinki since January 2018. His career has spanned roles in the Cabinet Office, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office and House of Commons, principally in inter-agency co-ordination, security and analysis. His previous overseas postings include Kabul (as Chargé and Deputy Ambassador) and Basra (Deputy Consul General). Tom has degrees in history and in international relations. He is of Danish, English, Irish, German and French descent.