We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Leadership candidates both pass Stonewall test easily

November 29, 2007 1:39 PM

Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual equality lobbying group Stonewall has quizzed both Lib Dem leadership contenders on their stance over LGB equality and a few specific issues. Both Chris Huhne and Nick Clegg gave answers which do the party proud and reflect that, as with previous Lib Dem leaders, we can look forward to a new party leader who is strongly committed to LGBT equality - whichever of them wins.

Stonewall asked the candidates:

  • Do you support extending the 'public duty' to promote equality to include sexual orientation?
  • If you are successful in the leadership election, what will it mean for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain?
  • Do you support the 2005 manifesto pledge made by Charles Kennedy to lesbian and gay voters to "make incitement of homophobic hatred an offence on the same basis as inciting racial hatred"?

Their responses were:

NICK CLEGG MP

Q: Do you support extending the 'public duty' to promote equality to include sexual orientation?

A: Yes. I would like to see a single duty for public bodies to promote equality on grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age. I would want to reduce bureaucracy for the public bodies wherever possible, and this single duty goes a long way to achieving this.

Q: Do you support the 2005 manifesto pledge made by Charles Kennedy to lesbian and gay voters to "make incitement of homophobic hatred an offence on the same basis as inciting racial hatred"?

A: Yes. As I said in an interview to PinkNews: I am absolutely in favour of making incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation an offence. We are however still waiting on the government for the exact text of the proposed amendment to the Immigration and Criminal Justice Bill, because obviously there are important issues about freedom of speech that come into play. But I do not think we can stop there. If we want to stop homophobia, we have to start at the grassroots, and especially in our schools. I know the Liberal Democrat education team have worked closely with Stonewall to campaign against homophobic bullying in our schools, and under my leadership we would continue and strengthen this campaign.

Q: If you are successful in the leadership election, what will it mean for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain?

A: They will continue to have a champion right at the top of a major political party. Like many people of my generation, I'm dismayed that anyone should have any reservations about the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual citizens. I want to live in a world where equality and non discrimination is quite simply normal, constant and unquestioned. Sexual orientation should have no bearing on a person's life chances, and I will campaign to make that a reality both here in Britain and abroad, where lesbian, gay and bisexual people can face the most appalling persecution.

CHRIS HUHNE MP

Q: Do you support extending the 'public duty' to promote equality to include sexual orientation?

A: Yes. This provision was included in the Lib Dem sponsored Single Equality Bill sponsored by Lord Lester and has been Lib Dem policy for many years. All equality strands should be subject to similar provisions in terms of the negative and positive obligations upon public authorities. Under my leadership the Lib Dems will continue to press the government on its 1997 manifesto commitment to abolish unjustified discrimination wherever it exists - a pledge which has taken far too long to deliver.

Q: Do you support the 2005 manifesto pledge made by Charles Kennedy to lesbian and gay voters to "make incitement of homophobic hatred an offence on the same basis as inciting racial hatred"?

A: Yes and in my view this commits the Party to supporting an amendment to the Public Order Act which criminalises hate speech along similar lines to the offences which now exist for race hate and religious hate. The key questions are what the provisions will be in order to strike the right balance with free expression. While the Government is right to propose restricting the offence to intentional actions and to exclude words or behaviour that are simply insulting or abusive (while covering threatening language) I support attempts made by the Lib Dems to push the Government to go further to try to cover such speech that links homosexuality to paedophilia which is particularly capable of inciting hatred or worse.

Q: If you are successful in the leadership election, what will it mean for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain?

A: My record in the European Parliament and in the Commons is one of supporting full equality for the LGBT community. If I become leader of the Party, we will certainly continue to be the most pro-equality of all the parties; and I will be particularly keen to ensure that we use the opportunity afforded by pre-legislative scrutiny of the forthcoming equality bill to beef up the proposals that emerged from the frankly disappointing Discrimination Law Review. We will also press for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to be given the power and resources it needs to do the work required to deliver nothing less than equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people.

Related Links