Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May’s conversion on gay rights

Protesters last night stepped up the pressure on Theresa May by calling for a full explanation of her past record and an apology "in the form of an affadavit".

The protesters whose online campaign forced equalities minister Theresa May to say she had “changed my mind” about gay adoption on Question Time last night have stepped up the pressure by calling for a full explanation of her past record and an apology “in the form of an affadavit”. The campaigners have also called for more awareness to be raised of her voting record, which included opposing the repeal of Section 28 and lowering the homosexual age of consent to 16.

The “Sack Theresa” website says:

“Tonight we witnessed quite an extraordinary event on national television: a Facebook campaign caused a senior government minister to annouce she had “changed her mind” concerning gay couples adopting. I am of course refering to Theresa May’s comments when confronted by a teenager on Question Time regarding her gay rights record…

This doesn’t stop us questioning her record however and we will continue to do so… Furthermore her argument that is was ”some years ago” seems intriguing. Whilst we accept that she may have recently changed her mind, we question why she still voted against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill in 2008, containing clauses which would stop discrimination against lesbian couples receiving fertility treatment.

This was a free vote; she did not have to follow her party. Therefore, the fact that she voted against it shows that to a certain extent she genuinely holds these beliefs independently of any pressure from the party. More importantly; this was 17 months ago. This was not the Theresa May under party obligations of 1997, this was the Theresa May, free agent, of 2008…

We are calling for a full explanation of her views and an apology for her previous voting record in the form of an affidavit. We still regret her appointment, since she is not a very symbolically positive candidate whom we could trust to continue the progress made over the last few years. We will continue to raise awareness and to call for her resignation. We will give her a call tommorrow to present our proposal.”

Still very much calling for the equalities minister to be removed from her post, one of the main campaigners Jane Cahill told Left Foot Forward:

“I don’t think its ok for her to be Equalities Minister. I think our campaign is showing that many people have been angered by her appointment and dismayed by her voting record- a few words on a Question Time where the one person you’d expect to grill her (Shami Chakrabarti) didn’t seem to know a thing about it? I don’t think this answers our more compelling concerns.

“I don’t question her sincerity on gay adoption, but nor do I view it as the ultimate test of someone’s views on LGBT equality. That she voted against Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill as late as 2008, which was aiming to stop discrimination against lesbian couples receiving fertility treatment, indicates to me that she isn’t committed to LGBT rights. I should also point out that the vote on that bill was a free one.

“I wholeheartedly welcome her comments, but we are now looking for something more substantial to reassure us that this isn’t just some words said on Question Time to avoid a difficult issue. We will be phoning her today to request a sworn apology for her previous voting record, in the form of an affidavit. Until that point we shall be pushing for her resignation.”

The “Sack New Homophobic Equality Minister” Facebook group now has nearly 70,000 members while an online petition “Requesting Theresa May’s Resignation from the Post of Equalities Minister” has received nearly 30,000 signatures.

28 Responses to “Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May’s conversion on gay rights”

  1. Ben Cooper

    RT @leftfootfwd: Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights: http://bit.ly/bZ7g0w

  2. Mal

    RT @leftfootfwd: Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights: http://bit.ly/bZ7g0w

  3. 2me2you

    RT @leftfootfwd: Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights: http://bit.ly/bZ7g0w

  4. B Latif

    RT @leftfootfwd: Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights: http://bit.ly/bZ7g0w

  5. Lucia

    RT @leftfootfwd: Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights: http://bit.ly/bZ7g0w

  6. NorthernJohn

    I’m very strongly pro-gay rights, but there are a couple of perfectly valid reasons why someone might not have voted for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, which I should say I’m not familiar with.

    Firstly, there may very well be other provisions within the Bill which she did not agree with and which outweighed the ‘positives’. One could argue that to overthrow the Iranian government is done with the aim of preventing the persecution of homosexuals. But if we see other problems with the approach, we could reject it anyway.

    Secondly, just because something “aims” to achieve a certain result, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to. An aim of criminalising cannabis might be to limit its use by teenagers. Doesn’t always work out that way, and where government is concerned, let’s beware the unintended consequence.

  7. Anon E Mouse

    Who cares what these “protesters” say? Who are they?

    The fact they are not prepared to accept that someone has changed their mind and opinion speaks volumes. Let me guess; they describe themselves as “progressives” I bet.

    The fact is, against the odds it seems, this coalition just keeps getting better and better. To get rid of hips and id cards so quickly and the repeal of “hundreds of unnecessary” pieces of legislation put into law by those control freaks who were in charge last time is a breath of fresh air.

    Seems to me any protester with a closed mind like they clearly have should find something else to do….

  8. Don Quixote

    Anon- This has nothing to do with progressives, or any party or even how convincing or not people found May’s conversion. No one is asking her to be sacked from her role as Home Secretary. All that has happened is that people have questioned the choice of appointment for the Minister for Equality.

    Regardless of her conversion, for which I admire her, May has hardly been a champion for equality.

  9. tomtiddler

    @anon

    wanker students i imagine.

  10. statechaos

    Clearly these protesters are intolerant of anyone whose opinion differs even marginally from their own. As regards equality, why do we even need a Minister for Equality? You can only offer equality of opportunity, but you cannot make people equal as they are inherently different. If we just saw each individual as a person, rather than labelling them as some sort of minority with special requirements then far fewer equality issues would arise.

  11. Mr. Sensible

    “this coalition just keeps getting better and better.”

    Well you’re entitled to your opinion, Mr Mouse.

    And I’d be concerned about her appointment as Home Secretary; she will be the custodian of the laws concerning B and Bs, which is what caused all the furore with Mr Grayling.

    I am not necesarily saying she holds those views, but if she does she can’t really act as Home Secretary.

  12. Tom White

    It would be lovely if Theresa May had suddenly seem the light, but you hardly have to be a *total* cynic to suggest that her change of heart on this issue is just a little bit convenient, given the circumstances. For my money, she looked like she was professionally trotting out the party line on QT last night, rather than speaking with any conviction. And that’s clearly what a number of people in the audience thought too.

    That said, I have better things to do than wonder about what’s precisely going on in Mrs May’s head – there are plenty of anti-gay prejudices and injustices going on at the moment. I hope those on here who are so good at sneering about gay rights protesters are as sedulous in objecting to these.

  13. Don Quixote

    What Tom White said.

  14. GLBT World News

    Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights … http://bit.ly/a2cLlZ

  15. Liz McShane

    I was pretty shell shocked by Douglas Murray’s attack on the Tories’ long tradition of homophobia and nasty legislation such as Clause 28 etc. He even went on to praise Labour (rightly so) for being the progressives when it came to equality legislation and setting the agenda…

    Yes Theresa May’s conversion (10 years a bit late) is welcome but does seem rather convenient & opportunistic.

  16. paul canning

    Labour really needs to give this one up. Look at stuff like Alan Duncan’s comment piece today on Malawi, as well as the coalition agreement text on LGBT issues. Yes, actions speak louder than words but the direction of travel so far is positive.

    It took years before Labour enacted the laws which they’re now so proud of – I pushed Outrage to run a float in Pride in 2000 which had Blair as Pinocchio precisely because nothing had happened by three years in. Actually it was worse, Labour was opposing the case on discrimination in the military in the Court of Human Rights. It took a decade to end discrimination legally in the workplace.

    It would be easy for people to find holes to pick in Labour’s record – as I did over Iraqis and asylum to Michael Cashman’s outrage during the election – because nobody’s ‘perfect’ on LGBT issues.

    Those actually trying to achieve change cannot afford to be partisan. Supporting these pointless attacks on Theresa May and Labour pretending to be something other or more than it actually is just does nothing of any practical consequence for LGBT people. You may not see this but non-partisan activists and probably a lot of ordinary LGBT do.

    A far more useful line for somewhere like Left Foot Forward is a ‘coalition watch’ on what they say versus what they do – not rehashing past voting records like Labour’s record is some sort of perfection we should all be be grateful for.

  17. tomtiddler

    how can it be right for homosexual couples to adopt a child? is that really in the child’s best interests? and why stop at homosexuals? what about necrophiliacs or peeping toms? and what about those people that put on women’s stockings and then wank/hang themselves. what sort of a impression is that going to make on a child?

  18. Shaun

    RT @leftfootfwd: Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights: http://bit.ly/bZ7g0w

  19. Issac Greaves

    RT @SackTheresa: RT @leftfootfwd: Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights http://bit.ly/bZ7g0w

  20. Tom White

    LOL@tomtiddler: yes it is because a) the alternative is ‘Care’, b) because being gay is perfectly normal c) lots of the people (including dads) ‘wearing stockings and wanking themselves’ are straight etc. Stop wasting our time with this rubbish.

    @Paul Canning: you certainly have a point in suggesting that Labour’s record is not perfect, and that the EU played an important role in helping to stimulate Labour government action. But you’re in danger of going too far in the other direction: don’t start kidding yourself that because Alan Duncan writes a nice article, the culture of the Tory party has changed. It hasn’t. It may be *changing* but that’s not the same. People have every right to question (although not to obsess) about Tory ministers’ records. And indeed to be sceptical of David Cameron’s commitment to gay equality after his appalling interview with PinkNews. So: yup, of course nobody’s perfect here. But one party’s record on LGBT issues in power is much better than the others.

  21. SackTheresaMay

    RT @leftfootfwd: Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May's conversion on gay rights http://bit.ly/bZ7g0w

  22. Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman

    Theresa May remains unfit for the role of Minister for Women and Equalities.

    Ian Tucker criticises the Facebook petition that continues to call for Theresa May to be removed from the role of Minister for Women and Equalities. (Cf. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/23/theresa-may-gay-rights-facebook) He claims that “its reaction perhaps helps illustrate how you often get little respect for changing your mind”. On the contrary, there are three reasons why this petition quite rightly continues, in spite of her professed change of mind.

    First, she changed her mind on gay adoption, and her professed reasons for doing so had nothing to do with a belief in equal gay rights. They had to do with the welfare of children in care. (Cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peAmygbh7CQ) Why should this particular change of mind, for this particular reason, give us any cause to think that Theresa May now believes in equal gay rights?

    Second, while I welcome the fact that, in 2004, she voted freely for civil partnerships, this is not evidence that she had, at that time, changed her mind on equal gay rights more generally. For, only a year prior, in 2003, she didn’t bother to turn up to vote for the repeal of Section 28, and, earlier in 2004, she didn’t bother to turn up to vote for the Gender Recognition Bill. Moreover, as recently as 2007, she didn’t bother to turn up to support the Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations Bill. Furthermore, in 2008, when she was given a free vote by her leader, she voted against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, thereby denying, to those same couples she had previously agreed could be civilly partnered, any rights of access to fertility treatment.

    Third, at a moment when gay Malawians face 14 years imprisonment, gay Ugandans face the death penalty, and a lesbian Iranian asylum-seeker is about to be deported from Britain to face torture, the public perception of the Minister for Equalities will make or break our ability to push for equal gay rights around the world. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said as much to Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4’s PM last Thursday: “if we are going to win over other countries to our own values, we have to increasingly inspire them with how we represent those values ourselves”.

    Theresa May does not represent those values. She does not inspire them. Whenever the gauntlet of equal gay rights has been thrown down, Theresa May has invariably either run into hiding or paraded her homophobia. We need an inspirational champion of equal gay rights, not someone who begrudingly concedes them. Theresa May remains unfit for the role of Minister for Women and Equalities.

  23. Nick Wilde

    She is clearly refusing to celebrate LGBT culture. How can such a person represent anyone in a progressive country. Surely, such a person should not be in public office.

  24. Mike Lammiman

    Protesters unimpressed by Theresa May’s conversion on gay rights http://bit.ly/aWkFLR

  25. Lord Pont

    if everyone celebrated LGBT then we wouldn’t have a very diverse society. society is a little bit more colourful with a few homophobes about.

    does anyone know what the T stands for in LGBT by the way? my brother thinks it’s transvestite, but I’m not so sure.

  26. How do you tell a Minister of Culture from a fascist?

    […] Many of you may excite in the application of such a description to other of Hunt’s colleagues on the new front benches of our Great Coalition. K would, in fact, counsel against such sweeping generalisations. There is, K suggests, something very specific in the make-up of a character for the Ministry of Culture and his attempts to be ‘one of the lads’. A buffoon who cannot manage his own expenses, for example, might be more suited to the Treasury. Or as with the protagonist of K’s short story ‘A Judgement’, being unable to fathom or accept the relations between two men would mean you would, perhaps, be better suited to the Home Office. […]

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