Austerity and anti-migrant policies disproportionately hurt LGBTQ people
Last night, David Cameron was named ‘Ally of the Year’ at the PinkNews awards, in recognition of his work in securing same-sex marriage legislation.
Beyond the confusion as to why he’s receiving it now, more than three years after Same Sex Couples act was passed, many queer and left-wing campaigners have responded angrily to the news.
Their argument is not — as critics will invariably suggest — that no Tory can be an LGBTQ ally, but rather that this Tory consistently undermined the rights and well being of LGBTQ people, particularly those in marginalised communities.
While achieving same-sex marriage against the will of the majority of his own party was an impressive achievement, it does not make up for his manifold failures.
1. Cuts to LGBTQ support services
In 2014, despite the passage of the Same Sex Couples Act, research showed that LGBT services across the voluntary and community sector sector were barely coping as a result of austerity cuts imposed by Cameron’s government.
These include specialist services for the victims of hate crime, gender identity support services, cultural organisations, helplines and support and education services for both young LGBTQ people and elderly members of the community.
2. Cuts to mental health and homelessness services
It’s been well-established that austerity policies disproportionately affect marginalised communities, even if they’re not deliberately targeted at those groups.
Throughout Cameron’s term, his ‘profoundly disturbing‘ real-terms cuts to mental health services were particularly damaging to LGBTQ people, who are much more likely to experience mental health issues.
Likewise, since LGBTQ people make up about a quarter of the young homeless population, restrictions on homeless services disproportionately affected the community.
3. Persecution of queer asylum-seekers
As part of Cameron’s lengthy campaign against migrants and asylum seekers, the Home Office has done all it can to dissuade persecuted LGBTQ people from seeking asylum in the UK.
Those who seek asylum are interrogated by the Home Office, required to relive their experiences of trauma and prosecution and often forced to share intimate information about their sex lives and preferences, to ‘prove’ that they deserve asylum.
And even after that process, huge numbers of asylum claims have been rejected on tenuous grounds. It was reported (in PinkNews, ironically) that caseworkers once rejected a Nigerian woman’s application because she had children, and so couldn’t be gay.
4. Refusal to mandate LGBTQ-inclusive sex education
Earlier this year (the year for which he’s been named top LGBTQ ally), Cameron dug in his heels and refused to back compulsory, LGBT-inclusive sex and relationships education in schools.
Cameron defended the right of schools to determine what worked best for them, in accordance with their ‘ethos’, meaning that many students end up with no education whatsoever on LGBTQ sexuality, rights or safety.
5. Regretting the same sex marriage bill
According to Telegraph journalist, Matthew d’Ancona, even Cameron’s one shining achievement — the passage of same-sex marriage — is not untainted.
In his book, d’Ancona quotes Cameron as saying in private that ‘if I’d known what it was going to be like, I wouldn’t have done it’. He was referring to the fact that his relationship with the Conservative grassroots and some of his MPs was damaged by his advocacy for marriage equality.
Even if we question the accuracy of this quote, plenty of advocates have asked why Cameron — who supposedly believes marriage is a fundamental human rights issue — gave his MPs a free vote in parliament.
In the end, a majority of Conservative MPs voted against, and Cameron’s achievement was only possible because of the near-universal support of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
If this is the best ally the LGBTQ community can find, then things are much worse than we thought.
Niamh Ní Mhaoileoin is editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow her on Twitter.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.