OPINION: Are we heading for a Tory backlash against the LGBT community?
Jane Fae can feel a storm brewing.
In the wake of last week's botched election, the backlash against LGBT communities and people is coming and it may be coming far faster than you think.
Two stories, last week, hinted at the oncoming storm. The first, covered by DIVA the morning after the election, was the likely alliance with the DUP.
That is definitely worrying although possibly less worrying for its direct impact on policy than we might fear. The DUP knows that trying to extend its hate-fuelled social policies, on women and LGBT issues, is unlikely to run and risks a major backlash. For if the DUP can seek to take the mainland back to the 1950's, clearly a future progressive government would no longer have any qualms about dragging Northern Ireland laws forward to the 21st century.
More worrying was some research I carried out into Theresa May's take on LGBT issues. I was investigating whether she had really suggested that the way to “cure” Lesbian schoolgirls was to expose them to male role-models. Hours of research in the British Library and a conversation with the source of that quote led me to conclude that the quote was fake.
Alarmingly, though, the views behind it were all too real. May had been an enthusiastic Education Chair at Merton Council when section 28 (a move to prevent the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools) became law: she later spoke against its repeal, arguing for the government to do more to promote family values; and in 2008 she voted for a (failed) attempt to require women seeking IVF to demonstrate existence of a male role model in the lives of any subsequent children.
Throughout her parliamentary career, she was staunchly anti-LGBT, only undergoing a miraculous conversion in 2010, when her new boss, David Cameron made clear that “being nice to the gays” was now government policy. So just how real was that conversion?
This week, we found out. Over the weekend, she appointed as Justice Secretary, David Lidington, a man who has consistently opposed LGBT rights, voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act and who has gone on record as stating that the purpose of marriage was “for the procreation and care of children”.
Those who hoped that the Tory party might have changed its tune on gay rights should remember that in 2013, 133 Tory MP's – almost half the parliamentary party – voted against the Equal Marriage Bill.
We cannot know how many of the remainder were genuine supporters of that measure, how many supported it because it suited their career ambitions to align themselves to the pro-LGBT David Cameron.
However, as events of the past year have demonstrated: the Tories seem happy to bury any principle and overturn any policy to cling on to power. And with a Prime Minister whose take on LGBT issues is at best lukewarm but, as we are beginning to see, more naturally hostile, we should be preparing for choppy seas ahead.
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