Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Nick Clegg's Fabulous Attitude on Equal Marriage

Nick Clegg has laid out five key changes the Liberal Democrats would make to ensure that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were treated equally under the law.

In an interview with Attitude, reported in the Independent, he says that we would:

1 Make sure that children in all schools are taught that homosexuality is "normal and harmless" so that they grow up learning to accept everybody. Schools would also have to address homophobic as well as racist and sexist bullyng. There is no justification for allowing prejudice against people being who they are. My daughter's only 10, but kids in her playground are already using homophobic insults. I'm glad that she will stand up and say she thinks it's wrong for them to do so, but she shouldn't be leading the fight against it.

2 Have one form of marriage for everybody.

3 Allow gay men to give blood. Every single day I hear adverts from the Blood Transfusion Service encouraging people to give blood. They've reported how stocks have become low during the cold weather. Yet there's an automatic ban on any man who's ever had sex with another man on donating their perfectly healthy blood, which makes absolutely no sense.

4 Give asylum to any person fleeing persecution for their sexual orientation as we do for religious and political persecution.

5 Review Uganda's Commonwwealth membership because of its new law introducing the death penalty for homosexuals. I think that probably means kicking Uganda out. I certainly don't see why it should have the ecoonomic benefits and international standing that Commonwealth membership gives it while it discriminates in this way.

To me all of this is just basic common sense. It's also a statement of our long held core beliefs, that nobody should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. That was written in to our constitution when the party was formed.

We have to give Labour credit for the progress they have made on LGBT issues during their time in Government. The Tories, however, are a different kettle of fish. People who are still on their benches in the House of Commons brought in Section 28. Cuddly Ken Clarke, often put out as the affable face of the Conservatives was part of that Government. I instinctively don't trust them on any sort of equality issue. It will be interesting to see if David Cameron's reaction is. Our policies are the logical extension of a commitment to equal rights for gay people. Will his deeds match his actions?

I'm proud of Nick for the open, relaxed and very matter of fact way he presents and stands by liberal ideas on a whole range of things. When I see him on the tv, he's the same Nick I first met 12 years ago, completely genuine. The public already has a very high opinion of him - a whole range of polls gives him a very healthy aproval rating and I think that trend will continue in the coming months as they get to know him more.


Jen said...

The blood donation ban also extends to any woman who has had sex with a man-who-has-sex-with-men in the last 12 months.

That's the bit that most makes a mockery of it as a policy for me: it's not as if women are magically cured of HIV after a year.

Jen said...

Um... "We have to give Labour credit for the progress they have made on LGBT issues during their time in Government."?

There's a rogue "they" in there I should say - everything that has been achieved in that time on LGBT issues has come from either the Lib Dems or Europe.

Civil partnerships law drafted by Lord Lester. Section 28 abolished in Scotland first because of the Lib Dem presence in the government. And so on, issue by issue: Labour took the credit in the 'pink press' while claiming to the tabloids that it wasn't their fault.

The military ban was defended through the courts by Labour - spending oodles of taxpayer cash on keeping homophobic laws in place. And in 1999 they legislated to reduce trans people's rights in employment, using a statutory instrument so there was minimal debate.

Lots has happened since 1997, but Labour were hardly the cheerleaders!

Caron said...

Point taken, Jen, but isn't it at least good that they gave time and support to getting the legislation passed and had the good sense to get Lib Dems to draw it up.

I would have preferred to see an extension of marriage to same sex couples rather than civil partnerships to start with. I never said they'd done it all, but I think they have to get some credit.

It is a big difference from the Tories whose record on equality issues of any sort is absolutely terrible and I can't see it changing.

And people think Nick Clegg is like David Cameron! Not in a million years.

Jen said...

I always say the difference between Clegg and Cameron is that back in the late 80s when they were starting to be politically aware, Cameron looked at the poll tax passing, gay bashing, privatise-your-granny Tory party and thought: that's the place for me. While Clegg did the same and thought: not on your nelly.


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