Swinson: Tories’ anti-gay actions speak louder than words

by Stephen Tall on August 1, 2007

Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson has rebutted Alan Duncan’s accusations that she unfairly highlighted Tory MPs’ overwhelming failure to support gay rights.

Mr Duncan branded the Lib Dems “shits” after Ms Swinson, the party’s equalities spokesperson, pointed out the following facts:

* 80% of the 25-member Tory shadow front-bench has voted against major items of gay rights legislation since 1998;
* 90% of those eligible to vote voted against the equalisation of the age of consent; and
* 85% of those eligible to vote voted against the repeal of Section 28.

Mr Duncan, the Tories’ first openly gay MP, railed against Ms Swinson on the New Statesman website: “Historically, the Conservatives have been behind the curve. … But a piece of research like this isn’t constructive. It just makes the Liberal Democrats look like shits.”

The New Statesman observes:

Despite his recent support for the Sexual Orientation Discrimination legislation and civil partnerships, Tory leader Cameron has a chequered record on gay rights, having voted against gay adoption under a three-line whip. But a Tory spokesman said Cameron had abstained from a whipped vote under former leader Iain Duncan Smith on the repeal of Section 28 and supported gay adoption.

In fact, Cameron voted against the repeal of Section 28 passing to a second reading before abstaining on the second reading.

In 2000 as candidate for Witney he told a local paper that the Blair government “continues to be obsessed with their ‘fringe’ agenda, including deeply unpopular moves like repealing Section 28 and allowing the promotion of homosexuality in schools,” and that “Blair has moved heaven and earth to allow the promotion of homosexuality in schools”.

As Ms Swinson points out in the comments of the Statesman’s online article:

Actions speak louder than words! … In March this year, Tory MPs voted 3 to 1 against measures to protect lesbian, gay and bisexual people from discrimination in goods and services. Furthermore in June a Populus survey showed 54 percent of Tory MPs opposed equal rights for homosexual couples.

Whatever accusations Mr. Duncan may chose to throw at me for saying this, the voting record of the Conservative party, including the voting record of the party this year, would send a chill down the spine of most, if not all, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender members of society. It is not unreasonable to point this out.