LUKE HAWKSBEE on David Cameron’s fluffing of questions concerning homosexuality in a recent interview with Gay Times.
In a recent interview with Gay Times, David Cameron seemed unable to remove his foot from his mouth.
On the one hand, Cameron has a relatively good record on gay rights. Well, he does as far as Tories go. He supported civil partnerships and apologised for Thatcher's Section 28, a ban on promoting homosexuality in schools. On the other hand, he admitted to exercising little control over his MEPs, who align themselves with extreme right-wingers and voted against criticising Lithuania's own Section 28-style law. The Tory party machine claimed that they simply didn’t want to meddle in other countries' affairs, but I somehow doubt that retroactive rationales convince many voters.
So, is this a case of 'new leader, same old party?' Cameron argues that he has made a lasting change to Tory policy on gay rights. But, MEPs aside, even he seemed to be backtracking later in the interview. The Tory leader suggested at least three times that questions concerning gay rights should be a free vote, which, by Parliamentary custom, implies that he doesn't consider it a human rights issue.
Cameron admitted, ‘it's not a very good answer’, but continued to repeat it. When the interviewer pressed him on the apparent contradiction between his preference for free votes and his acknowledgement that gay rights are human rights, his response was, ‘no sorry, you're right, you're right, no, I mean … the answer about, sorry, sorry, erm, no, you're right, the two, erm, sorry … the two votes are very different … do you know, can we stop for a second? … I'd almost like to start completely from scratch’. After the interview, Tory spin-doctors went into damage limitation mode and tried to kill the tape. Thankfully, Gay Times ran the story anyway.
Let's get back to the party as a whole. Interestingly, one gay Tory blogger has suggested that most of the old-school homophobes have been weeded out ‘mainly due to fiddling their expenses’. It says a lot about the Tory attitude to human rights that the grievous offence is duck islands rather than bigotry. Despite the fortunate correlation between expense fiddling and homophobia (they'd still be there if they'd kept their fingers out of the till), it seems the job is far from complete, since a leading Tory advocated the 'right' to deny gay customers lodging in B&Bs. He clarified that this should only apply to those B&Bs run from one's own home, not high street hotels, but it seems clear that small business is higher on the Tory to-woo list than the LGBTQ community, and they clearly put property rights before human rights. The Tories claim to have changed, but they are still the party of the rich and powerful.
Shoring up their funding and pandering to the right wing of the church is more important to them than equality. They're called Conservatives, and the name still fits; however much they call for 'change', they are scared of threats to outdated traditional views, such as those concerning homophobia. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a Labour supporter (or a Lib Dem supporter, for that matter). This isn't a partisan attack; the truth is that equality can't be legislated into effect by a tiny minority. Homophobia affects many people on a daily basis, and thus, change is needed. Only serious social change (alongside a calling to account of the political elite over homophobia) can safeguard our human right to love.