OutUK's GAY PRE-ELECTION SOAP BOX - THE GREEN PARTY
With the General Election looming on Thursday 5th May, OutUK's Adrian Gillan puts spokespeople for the main political parties through his gay hustings to help gauge which one merits your precious queer vote.
Green Party LGBT Spokesperson Nigel Tart argues a Green vote is never wasted.
"A real wasted vote is a vote for something you don't believe in," chirps Green Party LGBT Spokesperson Nigel Tart against his rivals' dismissive goads, prophesying that - even with a first-past-the-post system - his camp looks set to make history by winning their first British MP, in Brighton, where they already topped the polls in last year's Euro elections.
Indeed, Green MEPs have been busy campaigning for EU-wide recognition of same sex partnerships; lobbying for the European Commission to outlaw the religious exemptions from employment protection; calling for protection against discrimination on goods & services; and calling for a Europe-wide survey of best practice in policing LGBT communities, with a view to developing a Gay-friendly Policing Charter. Likewise, Green councillors have been busy calling on Local Education Authorities to issue all education workers with clear guidance on their responsibilities to provide a safe, inclusive learning environment, to challenge all forms of prejudice and bullying, and to support LGBT staff and students in coming out.
Moreover, the Greens' Darren Johnson was the first out gay leader of a national party, instigating the London partnership register in his inaugural speech. New Green member Peter Tatchell first mooted the setting up of a Lesbian and Gay Museum in London. In Brighton, councillor and parliamentary candidate Simon Williams helped champion the campaign against "murder music". And Lord Beaumont - a former chair of the Albany Trust, the UK's first gay lobby group; and former Lib Dem - turned Green in 1999.
"New Labour's record is one of broken promises and dragged heels," taunts Tart turning sharply on his most mighty rival. "Despite a 1997 election pledge, Section 28 was only repealed in 2003 - after a backbencher's bill. And they only lowered the age of consent because a 16 year-old man had already started taking John Major's government to the European Court of Human Rights."
Tart also claims that the Sex Discrimination Act was extended in 1999 to include trans people - not as a result of a government initiative, but yet again due to the European Court of Human Rights; that imminent civil partnerships are both homophobic (a second class imitation of marriage) and heterophobic (not open to straight couples); that gay asylum claims are now possible but often refused; and that - while all other forms of discrimination are addressed in new RE teaching guidance - Labour bowed to pressure from religious fundamentalists to exclude understanding and acceptance of queers.
"Labour fought tooth and nail in Europe to keep the ban on lesbians and gays in the military," he surges, scarce pausing for breath, savouring the £500,000 compensation the New Labour government had to pay to four former service personnel after its legal defeat. "Employment protection resulted from an EU directive, with New Labour bowing to right wing Christians to make churches and such exempt. Sexual offences' reforms were marred by a new homophobic law against cottaging. It is still legal for insurance companies, hotels and the like to refuse to serve us. And the proposed Commission for Equality and Human Rights is set to overlook LGB rights in favour of religious groups."
Tart refutes Labour's accusation that the Greens have recently taken to "promoting the rather bizarre views" of one of their newest members: "Any healthy democracy embraces a range of views, and we were honoured when Peter Tatchell joined the Party. Our positions are remarkably consistent, with only small differences of opinion - we don't back Peter's call for an age of consent of 14."
"The Tories are responsible for nearly every homophobic law ever passed," turns this Green David on yet another Goliath. "They can wheel out the odd progressive for a 'gay safari' down to Brighton, but no one is taken in. I wouldn't buy my veggie burgers from a butcher! Old Tory values still hold sway, in the form of their recent attack on LGBT History Month, and their 'Section Kenty-Eight'. If today's Tories really have a new-found commitment to equality, why did Michael Howard say it was 'inappropriate' for him to comment on Kenty Eight, and fail to act when Tebbit blamed buggery for the obesity epidemic?!"
There is no doubting, though, that the Lib Dems' are certainly trying to give the Greens a run for their gay money. Their election manifesto has also unveiled a flagship proposal for an Equality Act that would equalise hate crime legislation so - unlike the draft Equality Bill as currently tabled before Parliament - priority is not given to one form of discrimination over another.
"While the Lib Dems are generally more LGBT-friendly than the others," claims Tart of the Greens' allegedly closest match on matters queer, "they couldn't meet the Greens' call for marriage equality; indeed, they even put up resistance to the Liverpool partnership register."
"As a gay activist, my natural home is the Green Party," touts tenacious Tart. "Greens care passionately about social justice and freedom, and we reject the imposition of orthodoxy. Diversity of all kinds has the potential to enrich all our lives."
DON'T WASTE YOUR VOTE
OutUK is urging every gay man in the UK to use his vote on Thursday 5th June in both the General Election and the Local Council Elections. Our coverage of the General Election will continue to update you on aspects of the campaign
that affect gay men.
Stonewall are also encouraging us all to vote tactically and you can
find out more about their excellent website using this link:
Stonewall's Political Campaign
Right up until election day, and after we will also continue to bring you information on the issues that affect gay men. OutUK Reporter Adrian Gillan has been talking to spokespeople for the main political parties:
Richard Porter - The Liberal Democrats
Charles Hendry - The Conservatives
Katie Hanson - The Labour Party