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IDAHO reception film

May 24, 2007 12:32 PM
Stephen Williams promoting the Stop Homophobic Bullying campaign

Stephen Williams MP

The party's latest YouTube video is of Stephen Williams MP at the anti-homophobic bullying reception held to mark the International Day Against Homophobia. Watch it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bu2eqxepZ4k

Stephen said:

The reason why we are having this reception is that the Liberal Democrats have been pushing the issue of homophobic bullying now for probably 18 months as a party political campaign on behalf of the party, also in my role on a cross party basis on the Education Select Committee to get Labour and Conservative MPs interested in the issue as well for an investigation into bullying. Our select committee report makes some hard hitting specific recommendations about homophobic bullying, which I'm sure the DFES which must respond to that report will take on board.

I was just explaining to one of the guests in the room that politics isn't just about leaflets and manifestos and treaties and whatever, it's actually about personal experiences. When people ask me, "Why are you a politician? What difference can you make to my life?" one of the examples that I give - one of several examples - is this particular issue.

I went to school, in a South Wales comprehensive school in the 1980s, at the time when The Sun was saying homosexuality was a gay plague, you couldn't use a toilet after a gay person had been there because you'd get AIDS and all the other issues that were around at the time.

It was a very cold place to be if you were gay or suspected of being gay.

I was bullied, I am not going to go into all the gory details around that. Lots of children are bullied for lots of different reasons. But if you are bullied because you are gay, the big difference is you have no-one else to run to.

When people called me all sorts of names and did various things to me when I was in school, I couldn't discuss it with a teacher, I couldn't discuss it with my friends because it simply was not an issue that was socially accepted at the time.

Now society has completely changed in the twenty years since I left school. The legal environment has moved on enormously, particularly in the last ten years just to make that positive point about the legacy of Tony Blair, I think he has had a hugely positive impact for gay people in this country.

But bullying in schools is still an issue that needs to be addressed and there is no legal framework at the moment to

oblige schools to deal with homophobic bullying.

So we've been calling for all schools to have a duty to record incidents of homophobic bullying, have a policy in place for dealing with it; and to have a trained member of staff who can make sure that that policy is implemented, and also act as a trained counsellor for all the children who are the victims.