Why Staying In The EU Is Important For LGBT Rights And Travel

Gay travel company OutOfOffice.com

I've already cast my postal vote to stay part of the EU ahead of the upcoming referendum. It's an absolute no-brainer for me to ensure not only we're part of a bigger family of countries, but that by being part of it we can use our influence to improve LGBT rights in not just the UK, but the EU and, by example, the rest of the world.

As the MD and founder of travel company OutOfOffice.com that specialises in LGBT friendly tailor-made travel worldwide, I've made sure that every page on our company website includes up-to-date laws relating to LGBT people. It's a minefield and whilst marriage is allowed in some and adoption is legal in a few, we're still a long way from uniformity across Europe. But many of the laws that we benefit from today as an LGBT community are as a result of being part of the EU. An EU directive led to the UK ban on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in 2003.

Of course, if we choose Brexit then LGBT rights are unlikely to get worse in the UK, but we need to lead by example. If we leave, others will follow. Other countries will no longer be bound to offer equal rights to their citizens, as they are under many of the terms of EU membership. It's a staple of existing EU membership - you cannot become a member without offering protection to your citizens if they identify as LGBT.

We need to use our collective power as part of the EU to ensure that those rights extend further. LGBT couples should be able to travel freely throughout the world without the fear of discrimination. But we have a long way to go.

We're still not at a stage where a same-sex marriage carried out in one EU territory receives the same recognition should that couple move to another EU state. The European Parliament is pushing for this recognition, but should we leave the EU we are by no means guaranteed to receive this benefit.

Imagine marrying the person you love and having to move abroad and your marriage effectively being worthless. That's a reality and that's something that we can only likely combat with EU membership. These arguments only add to those which I feel as someone running a travel business. The cost of travel will undoubtedly rise for all if we leave the EU. And that's before we even think about the negotiations and uncertainty that exists over what happens to reciprocal healthcare schemes, mobile roaming charges and a dip in the currency value.

I'm not naive. I worked as a television journalist for many years and visited the European Parliament on numerous occasions. It can be flabby, bureaucratic and complex. But the rights it affords LGBT citizens and the influence we have in the EU to continue to improve these rights not just for the UK but for the world is a vital reason we need to stay in the EU on June 23rd.

Darren Burn is the founder of OutOfOffice.com.