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Effective Opposition

February 1, 2005 12:00 AM
By Richard Porter in Bent Magazine - March edition

The Liberal Democrats have been the only party who have provided effective opposition to Labour over the past eight years. On gay adoption, repeal of Section 28, transgender issues and civil partnership rights, the Lib Dems have been unanimous in their support for a change in the law. The parliamentary party and regionally elected representatives around the country have been at the forefront of campaigns to ensure the police are more responsive to the needs of the LGBT community, and that reports of homophobic hate crime are taken seriously. Our party leader, Charles Kennedy MP frequently refers to the struggle for gay equality in his speeches and the party manifesto for the coming general election will outline the progress we still need to make to ensure an equal society for all. Key issues for the coming election will be focused around the themes of freedom, fairness and trust and will include proposals for an Equality Act, which will outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation. Contrary to popular belief, it is still perfectly legal to discriminate against a gay person in the provision of services, something this legislation would outlaw.

Whilst one can acknowledge progress has been made over the past eight years, we have been badly let down by Labour. Let us not forget that the repeal of Section 28 took them nearly six years, and outlawing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the workplace only came on to the statute books thanks to the European Union. And if you work for a religious organisation, Labour negotiated an exemption to the legislation so you can still be sacked because you are gay! More recently, it has been a struggle to get the government to accept that the Civil Partnerships Bill should include provision for full pension rights, and the government still has a long way to go in addressing the problem of homophobic bullying in schools.

Greens - based on our electoral system, a vote for the Green Party at the general election is a wasted vote.

Conservatives - Michael Howard was part of the cabinet that introduced Section 28, resisted equalisation of the age of consent, denied gay people basic human rights for eighteen years (as well as introducing poll tax) and now thinks we should vote for him. A large proportion of the Tory MPs recently voted against the repeal of Section 28, civil partnership rights and gay adoption.