The Liberal Democrats have today found themselves facing allegations of homophobic campaigning following a by-election win in Kingston-Upon-Thames where voters went to the polls yesterday.
The campaign has been likened to the 1983 Bermondsey by-election where Peter Tatchell, standing as a Labour candidate, faced intense abuse because of his sexuality. In Kingston, the issue was about the wording of Liberal Democrat literature which boasted “It’s always a straight fight here in Grove Ward”. The ‘unknown Conservative’ as the leaflet describes him, was Adrian Amer, who happens to be gay.
Following the announcement of the results, where the Liberal Democrat candidate Rebekah Moll scraped a 23 vote victory over the Conservatives, twitter was buzzing with talk of the controversial campaign. Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of Stonewall, tweeted “Shocking news coming in about things whispered on doorsteps in Kingston Council by-election,” and questioned whether the result would have been different otherwise.
Matthew Sephton, Chairman of LGBTory – The Conservative Party’s LGBT group said:
“I am shocked to hear the allegations of homophobic campaigning in this week’s Kingston by-election and I urge the Liberal Democrats to look into this matter further. Talk of a ‘straight fight’ or a ‘straight choice’ in such a campaign is at best insensitive and at worst a poor veil for blatent prejudice.”