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‘If you don’t do politics, politics will do you’

By Nick Bond

YouTuber and Digital Manager for Bite the Ballot, Jazza John, writes for Attitude about the importance of registering to vote ahead of this year’s general election:

If you’re part of the LGBT community and the election on 7th May is your first time voting, you may not link your gender or sexual preference with politics. The corridors of Whitehall and the shouting matches that happen every Wednesday afternoon at Prime Minister’s Questions can seem a million miles away from your choice of nightclub on a Friday night.

For those of us who were born in the 90s and came out in the 2000s when civil partnerships were the norm and Alan Carr was on prime time, it may seem that the fight is over. Queer discrimination is an old and distant period of our community’s history, right? Pride marches are for dressing up and the after-party now that Section 28 no longer exists.

It’s easy to forget that in Scotland, England and Wales same-sex marriage was only available from last year, the ability to legally change one’s gender only granted in 2005 and the age of consent only equalised in 2001. That is a blink of an eye when you consider the decades and centuries of activism and campaigning that came before the surge in LGBT rights that we’ve seen in the past fifteen years.

What’s more, although many see The Marriage Act passing in 2014 as the cherry on the top of our long history of fighting for civil liberties, we must remember the holes that remain as gaping reminders of discrimination our social group has suffered in the past.

Same-sex marriages are still illegal in Church of England churches, regardless of the desires of the Reverend or congregation. Men who have sex with men are still banned from giving blood, despite strict and effective screening of all donations. LGBT sex education is close to non-existent in schools. These are only a handful of issues where the minds of those in power still need to be won.

We also can’t ignore those from certain political circles that look to roll back the progress we have gained in LGBT rights in the last few years. Take the last decade and a half for granted and we could lose the advances as quickly as we won them.

In the 2010 election only 50% of under 25s were registered to vote, we saw only around half of those young people actually turn out to cast their ballot. Subsequently, we saw tuition fees rise by 300%, Education Maintenance Allowance (E.M.A.) was scrapped and youth services were slashed across the country.

For us at Bite The Ballot, this is proof that if you don’t do politics, politics will do you. The 18-24 population stands at around 11%, a good few percentage points higher than even the most generous estimations for the LGBT population in the UK. If a section of the population doesn’t use its vote, it will lose out to the political process.

We are a minority, and it’s therefore important that we make our voices heard first, by registering to vote, and second, turning out on May 7th. National Voter Registration Day is taking place on 5th February in an effort to get as many people on the electoral register as possible in the run up to the election.

Recent changes to the registration process mean than it is very possible that you may have ‘fallen off’ the register and don’t know about it. Make sure you check you’re still able to cast your vote by visiting

– Jazza John.