May: “I would vote differently” on LGBT now
The Prime Minister, Theresa May, spoke at a Pride reception in Downing Street to celebrate the contribution that lesbian, gay, bi and trans people make to the UK yesterday. Her remarks were peppered with the L, G and T of LGBT but there was less reference to bisexual people and biphobia did not get named alongside homophobia and transphobia.
Acknowledging her record of voting against LGBT equalities she said, “Like millions of other people in this country, I have changed my own mind on a number of the policy issues which I was confronted with when I first became an MP twenty years ago. If those votes were today, yes I would vote differently.”
She sought to distance herself from her own and her party’s record on Section 28, the law which ‘protected’ young people from learning about the existence of bi and gay people or accessing support. She declared, “everyone should be free to enjoy their lives free from harassment and discrimination, happy and proud of who they are. In particular, no child should ever be made to feel afraid or ashamed because of who they are.”
Reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Act, Theresa commented, “I know that my Party has a mixed record on LGBT issues and, like other parties, we have made mistakes in the past. But there are things we are proud of too. It was a Conservative MP, Humphry Berkeley, who first tried to change the law on homosexuality in the 1960s, before he lost his seat and a Labour MP, Leo Abse, took up the cause.”
In addressing her party’s controversial confidence-and-supply deal with the DUP, “I want to say something very directly. Because I know that there is concern about the agreement which we have made with the DUP. But this agreement does nothing to weaken the Conservative Party’s absolute commitment to LGBT equality and human rights.
And let me be even clearer. When it comes to those rights across the United Kingdom, I want all British citizens to enjoy the fullest freedoms and protections. That includes equal marriage. Now with devolution in the UK, that is not a decision for the UK Government to make. But my position is very clear. I think that LGBT people in Northern Ireland should have the same rights as people across the rest of the UK.”
That last sentence is a clear attack on the DUP’s continued blocking of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland, as reported in the pages of BCNs past.