Cynicysm and praise for new Tory approach to gay rights

The Liberal Democrats have launched a renewed attack on the Conservative party's record on gay rights, insisting there was a gulf between their words & actions.

The Liberal Democrats have launched a renewed attack on the Conservative party’s record on gay rights. Reacting to Nick Herbert’s speech on “championing gay equality”, the Lib Dems insisted there was a gulf between his words and “his party’s actions” on gay rights.

The shadow environment secretary had said:

“For the modern Conservative Party, embracing gay equality is neither a temporary phenomenon, nor an agenda which can be reversed.”

Gay equality was “in tune” with the Conservative party’s “beliefs, thinking and aspirations”, he added, highlighting the benefits of same-sex civil partnerships and gay adoption.

The Liberal Democrats, however, claimed the modern Tory parliamentary party was far from progressive on gay rights. Since 1997, the voting records of all Tory MPs standing for re-election this year shows that:

• In 1999, one in five voted against the Sexual Offences Amendment Bill;

• In 2002, one in three voted to allow only heterosexual, married couples to adopt – including seven members of the shadow cabinet;

• In 2007, one in three voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations, which allows the Secretary of State to make regulations defining discrimination and harassment on grounds of sexual orientation – including a third of Tory frontbenchers, four of whom are in the shadow cabinet; and

• In 2009, the Conservatives opposed the Equality Bill, which will introduce a single ‘public duty’ requiring all publicly-funded bodies to proactively promote equality across the board and remove barriers to fair service provision – including more than two-thirds of the shadow cabinet

There was praise, though, from American blogger Andrew Sullivan, who said the British Conservative party had more gay representatives than even the Democrats. He wrote:

“If the Tories win the next election in Britain by just a one vote majority, there will likely be 15 openly gay Conservative MPs in the next Parliament…

“Can you imagine a married gay couple in any cabinet in the US, Democrat or Republican? For a little icing on the cake, they, along with heterosexual couples, will now be allowed to get married in the august rooms of the Houses of Parliament.”

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