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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12 Responses to “Cynicysm and praise for new Tory approach to gay rights”

  1. Shamik Das

    Cynicysm and praise for new Tory approach to gay rights:

  2. Left Foot Forward

    Cynicysm and praise for new Tory approach to gay rights:

  3. Shamik Das

    Have the Tories changed? RT @leftfootfwd: Cynicysm and praise for new Tory approach to gay rights:

  4. Liz McShane

    I recently heard someone describe the new Tory policy toward gay rights all part of their new ‘modern compassionate conservatism” as thus:

    “ ….years ago, the Tories boasted about how many Etonians they had in parliament and kept their gay MPs firmly in the closet, now they boast about how many gay MPs they have and keep the Etonians in the closet”…

    It felt like a pretty good summary of it to me.

  5. JPFX

    The Lib Dems are right, this is clearly ‘operation pink vote’ from the Tories. If tomorrow, there was a massive shift in public attitudes to same sex relationships then the Tories would jump on to that bandwangon.

  6. Mark

    I’m sure people don’t want to be patronised, surely there is no “gay vote”. Similarly, parties should be wary of scoring political points. If the Tories are briefing here, shame on them; if the Lib Dems are having a go at the Tories for moving towards more tolerance, shame on them for this should be encouraged, not lamented.

  7. Liz McShane

    Mark – I don’t think it’s patronising at all to understand and recognise the concerns & priorities that are important for different sections of society whether they are based on gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity etc and some parties do have a better record of tackling these than others.

  8. Mark

    Liz, put like that I’d agree although I’m wary of tweaking policies to suit every subsection of society, we should be acting together, no?

    By politicising homosexuality, are we not making it an issue when it should not be? Like I say, is there a “gay vote”? I’d be keen to see any evidence for this.

  9. Liz McShane

    Mark – i agree that we shouldn’t have single issue politics or parties but it is important for polticians and parties to be aware of and address key issues that affect certain groups as part of the bigger political picture. I am all for inclusivity!

  10. Mr. Sensible

    JPFX I agree; underneeth all this nothing’s changed.

    And that is enforced by those shameful lies in the Daily Mail.

  11. Liz McShane

    It will be interesting to see how the new ‘gay-friendly’ Tory party deals with this:

  12. paul canning

    One area of distinction which has had zero profile is asylum for lesbians and gays. Labour has every reason to want to see this ignored. So for us activists on the issue it was extremely encouraging to see Cameron’s comments on this vs those of Brown (let alone Woolas).

    See and follow link to comprehensive demolition of Labour’s record.

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