The new and shiny gay friendly image that the Conservatives are desperately pedalling is unravelling. In an interview this week with The Gay Times, David Cameron scored an own-goal by giving a confused and rambling answer on the rights of gay people. This confusion is not new, and shows the inconsistency at the heart of the Conservative Party.
Only the Green Party will put commitment to LGBT equality on centre stage and challenge other parties to be honest with LGBT people about their new found gay-friendliness.
Cameron’s record is as inconsistent as his performance on Wednesday. He has:
• Voted twice against allowing gay couples to adopt, but now says he is in support.
• Voted to restrict IVF treatment for lesbians.
• Voted for the retention of Section 28 in 2003, but now tries to distance himself from that vote by flippantly saying that he does not have a ‘perfect record’.
Recently, the vast majority of Tory MPs have voted against gay equality, including a third of the present Shadow cabinet. David Cameron took the decision to form an alliance with parties who are notoriously homophobic in the European Parliament. In the Gay Times interview that will become a marked date for what his party actually thinks, he said that he never issued instructions to his MEPs to vote in any particular way. David Cameron is comfortable with his MPs being just as homophobic as they like.
Compare this to what only one of two out gay Tories Nick Herbert said in February:
“We will speak out when countries abuse the human rights of gay people […] as we should speak out when any human rights are abused.”
Does Mr. Herbert know what his leader really thinks? Mr Cameron said in the interview:
“In the European Parliament, our MEPs have a general approach of not voting on the internal matters of another country.”
That’s right, best to just have a general approach of not getting involved. That’s how improvements are made, and real change happens.
Peter Tatchell, Green Party Human Rights spokesperson responded:
“Poor David Cameron really got in a muddle. This does not bode well for what a future Conservative government will do for LGBT rights. My challenge to him is this: how do you square your cooperation with these homophobic parties in the E.U., while proclaiming support for gay equality in the U.K.? “
Are Labour really so much better? Gordon Brown’s government’s refusal to offer asylum to LGBT refugees who have suffered beatings, imprisonment, and torture on the grounds that they will not be at risk of homophobic persecution if they simply hide their sexuality and stop having gay relationships, shows that while making some progressive decisions for gay people in this country, Labour are not beyond criticism. In fact, Labour practices double standards by not making similar demands on political or religious refugees.
Additionally, Labour have:
• Agreed to educational guidelines allowing faith schools to promote their own agenda of inequality.
• Not withdrawn support for the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual blood donors, contributing to the shortfall in blood donations.
In response, Green Party LGBT National Spokesperson Phelim Mac Cafferty said:
“This stands in sharp contrast to the Green Party’s position in our manifesto to remove special treatment allowing faith schools to promote homophobia on the grounds of religion. Labour have had over twelve years to end homophobic discrimination and they have not gone far enough.”
Would the Conservatives be any better? Their confused and inconsistent voting records show that for anyone interested in equality for all, a looming Conservative administration is deeply worrying, based on their own records and admissions – including those of their faux gay-friendly leader.
At the general election, gay people have the opportunity to support the party that supports LGBT rights. The Green Party is proud to offer the best, in fact, the only manifesto for LGBT people.
Caroline Lucas, Leader of the Green Party and parliamentary candidate for Brighton Pavilion, concluded:
“No other party is campaigning for non-discriminatory marriage for both opposite and same sex couples; to lift the lifetime ban on blood donation for gay and bisexual donors; and ensure safe haven and refugee status for LGBT people fleeing persecution. It’s clear from the confusion and embarrassing gaffes from other party leaders that they are cynically angling for the gay vote with little intention of properly making life more equal for LGBT people.”