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EU Referendum: Why The Voice is backing a vote to remain

WE FACE the biggest decision in a generation on June 23. It’s a choice between continuing our membership of the European Union or cutting our ties with it.

In the midst of all the heated arguments put forward by either side many in the black community are still undecided about which way to vote.

We believe that staying in the EU is important for three key reasons:


*The EU plays a key role in protecting the rights of black employees and workers;

*It has provided an important legal framework in the fight against racism and discrimination;

*It has helped many African and Caribbean families to stay together in the face of unsympathetic immigration officials who do not believe they have a right to remain in this country.

When it comes to legally protecting the rights of black employees, whose careers are too often hampered by racism, the role that the EU has played cannot be underestimated. These are rights that UK race equality campaigners have fought hard for over several decades.

The EU’s Race Equality Directive is a key piece of legislation that has strengthened existing legal frameworks in this country for combating discrimination on the grounds of racial or ethnic origin in areas such as employment, vocational training and membership of employee organisations.

It also gives victims of workplace discrimination the right to make a complaint through a judicial or administrative procedure, coupled with appropriate penalties for those who discriminate.

By ensuring these rights, it has helped provide a safeguard against the kind of racism that, left unchecked, would clamp down on the aspirations of black and minority ethnic (BAME) employees.

The EU’s Racial Equality Directive has also helped to clarify definitions of direct and indirect discrimination and harassment as well as allowing for positive action measures to be taken to ensure full equality in practice.

That is why major trades unions such as Unite, the GMB, Unison and Usdaw are all backing a vote to remain tprotect these rights.

They recognise how these measures have contributed towards tackling racism in member states.
The EU has also played a key role in keeping black families together.

HEARTBREAKING

Over the course of our thirty-four years existence we have covered several heartbreaking stories where families have been broken up because their right to stay in this country has been questioned.

Take the case of mother-of-five Beverley Boothe, who has lived in Britain for 34 years.


IMPORTANT PROTECTIONS: Mum-of-five Beverley Booth’s case highlights why we need to Vote Remain

Boothe first came to Britain in 1979 to join her parents. Since then she has studied here, worked and started a family.

But in 2013 she received a letter instructing her to “make immediate arrangements to leave the United Kingdom”.

Boothe, who suffers from high-blood pressure and a heart condition, was told to either provide proof that she had the right to be in the country, or present a copy of her travel ticket to the authorities.

She had been in an ongoing battle with the Home Office to get her Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) stamp replaced, after she lost her passport with the original.

She is not the only one in this situation.

There are around 40,000 enforced removals every year, the majority of them returning to Asia and Africa. Many are failed asylum seekers or are people like Boothe who face difficulty proving their right to stay in the UK. Too often, behind many of these sad cases of forced removals is the story of a family torn apart.

RESPECT

It is why Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, provides a right to respect for one’s “private and family life”, is so important. This protects human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. It has underpinned a number of legal cases where people who are refused the right to stay in the UK have been able to appeal against that decision in a bid to keep their families together. If we leave the EU, we lose these important protections.

And there are few guarantees that we will ever get them back.

Brexiters are already dismissive of them. Former London mayor Boris Johnson for example, has said it is “very disappointing” that Britain has not made “changes to employment law”, complaining that we “need to weigh in on all that stuff, all that social chapter stuff”.

Employment minister Priti Patel, a key Tory Brexiter, has called them a burden and would like to halve them.

It is impossible to advance the interests of BAME communities if this kind of thinking is at the heart of national policy-making.

Black voters must make their decision on the basis of what is best for race equality, human rights and diversity.
We must speak up, engage, and take responsibility for ensuring that the important protections the EU provides remain in place.

It is because we know how hard it was to win those rights that we are backing the Remain campaign.

And that’s why, come June 23, we urge you to do so as well.

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