"Tony Blair's legacy is not without its downside. He
was sometimes reluctant to repeal homophobic legislation. Soon after
he was elected Prime Minister in 1997, Labour ditched its
pre-election pledge to scrap the unequal age of consent and to end the ban on
gays in the armed forces. These reforms only happened because the
European Court of Human Rights ruled that this discrimination was
illegal; thereby forcing the UK government to introduce equality.
"The outlawing of homophobic discrimination in the workplace was not
initiated by Blair's government. It was the result of
a European Union Directive that the UK was compelled to make law in
2003. Previously, in 1998, Blair's government three times vetoed
parliamentary amendments to protect lesbians and gay men against
Mary Ann Sieghart The Times
"....Can you remember, for instance, how uptight and strait-laced Britain felt under John Major?
We seemed trapped in a 1950s, Dralon vision of the world in which homosexuality was wicked,
working mothers only marginally less so, and Shirley Bassey was the epitome of cool.
Now Britain is seen the world over as modern, vibrant and tolerant. Civil partnerships
came in with barely a murmur and gay men would only get into trouble if they were to commit perjury
about finding a boyfriend from an escort agency (and had Lord Browne of Madingley done
the same with a woman, he would have been equally discredited). For a time, we even had the Leader
of the Lords as a black woman and hardly anyone even noticed. Can you imagine
that happening under the Major Administration? Britain really changed in the Blair decade."
Polly Toynbee The Guardian
"...pause a moment here to remember the world of Margaret Thatcher, Norman Tebbit,
Peter Lilley, John Redwood and Bill Cash. Remember tax cuts for the rich, mass
unemployment, soaring child poverty, and deep spending cuts that left holes
in school roofs and trolleys in hospital corridors. Think of the Section 28
anti-gay law, and compare that with the Civil Partnership Act of 2004. That is how far Tony Blair's
government dragged the country in a progressive direction.
Make no mistake, at home he left behind a country far better than he found it - and
unimaginably better than it would have been under 10 more years of Conservative rule.
Whatever else he did wrong or failed to do - and the list is long - he made the
political weather and shifted the culture."
Michael Portillo Broadcaster, Former Conservative MP and Minister
"Blair's conduct in office made the public feel stupid for trusting him. The euphoria
of that new dawn of politics in 1997 swept along even wise heads and seasoned sceptics. He
retired unlamented. But he left behind a country more easy-going than the one he
inherited, less insular and more self-confident."
In the ten years from May 1997 to May 2007 Tony Blair oversaw a greater step forward in LGBT equality
and human rights than in any other period in our history: civil partnerships; the right to adopt; an equal
age of consent; the repeal of section 28; ending the ban on LGBT people serving in our armed forces; new laws on
hate crime and the Gender Recognition Act. This list alone makes it hardly surprising that in 2014 Gay Times awarded
Tony Blair the accolade of being one of the most influential Gay Icons of the last 30 years.
Don't forget that you have the opportunity to express your political view in the upcoming local elections on Thursday,
4th May. Please make sure you go to your local polling station and use your vote wisely. Don't leave it to others - Make your voice heard!