THE BIG GAY ELECTION | Week in review, manifestos and more27th May 2017
After a few sombre days of mourning the victims of the Manchester attack, the Conservative and Labour are back on the campaign trail
With less than two weeks until the country votes on the 8th of June, you can bet they’re ready to make up for lost time and make their final pitches to the public.
The biggest political story of the past two weeks is undoubtedly the release of the party manifestos. Labour, the Liberal Democrats, and the Conservatives all released their manifestos last week. I blogged about what they pledged to the LGBT community for HuffPost UK, while THEGAYUK’s editor-in-chief, Jake Hook, put together a quick guide for your easy reference.
Labour and the Lib Dems specifically made pledges to the LGBT community, but the Tories didn’t mention us once. This is, to put it bluntly, unacceptable. Regardless of political position, that one of the major parties—never mind the Prime Minister’s party—would neglect to mention the LGBT community or make any specific pledges to us seems almost unfathomable. It is yet another gaffe in an already controversial Tory manifesto, which has seen the Prime Minister U-turn on her plans for a so-called “dementia tax” (which would use the homes of deceased dementia sufferers to subsidise the care they received whilst alive).
Why the Conservatives didn’t think to include us in their vision for the country is beyond me, but it’s nothing short of an astonishing. This is all the more galling when you consider that UKIP, of all parties, managed to remember us when they controversially released their manifesto yesterday, ahead of the resumption of campaigning by the other parties. Granted, they only mentioned the LGBT+ community in a pledge to “test the social attitudes of migration applicants” towards women and gay people.
Whilst this sounds nice on the surface – nobody wants a bunch of raging homophobes coming into the country – many on social media have pointed out that a lot of UKIP’s own members wouldn’t pass this test. In the last week alone it was revealed that Iain Kealey, the UKIP candidate for Bristol South, once compared gay people marching against Islamophobia as “Jews for Hitler,” whilst their candidate in Witney has a penchant for referring to our community as the “gaystapo” and allegedly has ties to those who practice gay conversion therapy. Oh, and he’d like to repeal gay marriage.
UKIP wasn’t the only party with a gay cure controversy though. The conservative candidate in Brighton and Hove, Kirsty Adams, is reported to have links to a church that believes LGBT people are possessed by demons, which they then try to cast out. Ms Adams, who is standing against openly gay incumbent Labour candidate Peter Kyle, refused to say she doesn’t believe in the practice of casting out demons, but did say she has “never been homophobic” and supported equal marriage. “I am committed to all forms of equality,” she said in a statement.
Never mind casting out demons, though. Some trans people won’t even be able to cast a vote. The deadline to register to vote was Monday night, but as Pink News reported, several trans people were having issues registering after they legally changed their names or had protected National Insurance numbers (which some trans people opt for so their gender identity is less likely to be revealed).
If they do manage to vote and live north of the border, Kezia Dugdale – the out leader of Scottish Labour – has a novel suggestion for how they should vote, and it isn’t for her party. Ms Dugdale came under fire from many on the left when she seemingly encouraged some constituencies to vote Conservative in an effort to defeat the Scottish National Party. “The reality is the vast majority of seats across Scotland, it’s only the Labour party that can beat the SNP,” she told Sky News, before adding “there are a few differences in the Borders and the Highlands where the Tories might be better placed…” Suggesting people vote for your opponents is a novel way to win seats, but takes all sorts, I suppose.
Meanwhile, another out lesbian north of the border – the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson – has made the exact same pitch. That is, she’s asking Labour voters to support the Tories to oust the SNP. Of course, the SNP holds all but one of the constituencies in Scotland, so they’re unlikely to be completely wiped out. But Davidson’s Scottish Tories are doing remarkably well, currently polling in second place – their best showing in decades. They look poised to pick up at least one or two Scottish constituencies.
Meanwhile, back in England, the Liberal Democrats faced a backlash from their own members for an allegedly transphobic poster. “Vote her, get him,” says an image depicting Nigel Farage’s face imposed upon Theresa May’s body. According to the Telegraph, the chair of LGBT Lib Dems, Jennie Rigg, tweeted that the sign is “bordering on transphobia” and that the press team was “making her life difficult.” This is on top of the brouhaha that erupted earlier in the campaign when Lib Dem leader Tim Farron took weeks to publicly say that no, gay sex is not a sin. Judge for yourselves whether the image is transphobic:
You don't have to accept May and Farage's extreme version of Brexit that will wreck the future for you and your family. pic.twitter.com/wBoNgCrx4F
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) May 20, 2017
In yet another bit of bad news for the Lib Dems, former Lib Dem MP Simon Hughes – who is openly bisexual – was reported to the police by his Labour opponent, the incumbent MP Neil Coyle who defeated Mr Hughes in their Bermondsey constituency in 2015. In leaflets which allegedly looked like newspapers, Mr Hughes claimed Mr Coyle was being investigated for abusing members of his party’s staff, which Mr Coyle categorically denies.
Despite his sexual orientation, Mr Hughes has a spotty history when it comes to LGBT+ rights. He led a notoriously homophobic campaign against gay rights activist Peter Tatchell to win his constituency in 1983. More recently, he refused to vote for same-sex marriage, instead abstaining from the vote whilst outlining his opposition to same-sex marriage in a 2013 blog for the Liberal Democrat Voice. With friends like these, who needs enemies?
On that note, I’m off to make some enemies of my own by knocking back a few pints and challenging my local bartender to an ABBA sing-off. Blame the demon homosexuals in me, I guess. Until then, stay strong and stay fabulous.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.