Much is said of the negative effect a Conservative majority will have upon the poor, the sick and the disabled, and a lot of it far more eloquently than I usually convey my thoughts. But whilst all that is massively important, so too are the effects of Tory policy on other minority groups, so let’s have a look at the party’s record with LGBT rights.
The issue here is that the Conservative Party represents an amalgamation of different branches of Conservatism. The reason the Right Wing are more dominant than the Left Wing is that the Left are always fractured into disparate parties whilst, until the rise of UKIP at least, the Conservatives pushed themselves as a union of every right winger. From the independent business owner to the Lord in his manor; from ‘The Sun’ reading Granny in the Bingo Hall, to the most chinless, fox shreddingest, bible thumpingest lunatics out there, the Tories have stood as a united party against a mostly liberal or disillusioned population represented by several parties of varying size and credibility. This is how the Conservatives are able to form ‘majority governments’ whilst only getting between a quarter to one third of those of voting age to back them.
With regards to social reform in relation to the Conservative party, the clue to their attitude is in the name. Conservative… They are utterly determined to keep everything the way it is for as long as possible (of course this doesn’t apply to the NHS, Libraries, Human rights act etc.). People who vote Conservative… those who aren’t just protest voting because modern Labour are ridiculous… aren’t big social reformers. They are renowned for stripping away publicly owned assets such as the Railways, Telecoms, Gas, Coal, Post Office etc. and selling them off cheaply to private companies, always with the same results: The quality of service drops, whilst the prices rise in order to maximise profits for those at the top. The Tories abide religiously by the notion that if the government steers all the money to the top of society, it will trickle down to benefit everyone, whilst ignoring the reality that the money instead gets whisked away to the Cayman Islands, or the Bahamas, or anywhere else where it won’t end up benefiting anyone but the rich, the banks, and the politicians they donate to (which ones are they again?). But I digress.
The issue with being for the people at the top of the pile, is that the top is much narrower than the base. How do you convince people on modest incomes, living sensibly, struggling to raise family, that you are the party for them? Simple. You paint a picture of a golden age of the past and make out that the other parties want to ruin it. A lot of criticism was aimed at the Scottish National Party by the Tories for their nationalist stance, and yet the Tories play on a very dangerous sense of Nationalistic fervour. To them, the beauty of a Nation is not in its art, or its culture, or its diversity, but in its wealth and military might. Who cares is a few cripples are left without heating if it means Britain can wave its dick with the big boys, eh? Monarchy, Church, Traditional English values (basically romping around the world acting superior); these are what make the nation, not its people.
What has this to do specifically with LGBT rights? Everything!
The Tories have stood against every advance in LGBT rights because they don’t fit in with those values. They are new, uncharted territory, and the people that buy into the golden age of Empire, Royalty and Religion find it goes very much against their beliefs.
“But Tammy, you mental muffin…” I hear you say, “David Cameron led the government that INTRODUCED same sex marriage.”
He may have led the government, but let’s be clear that the Equal Marriage Act was proposed by (now former) Liberal Democrat Minister, Lynne Featherstone and championed by the Liberal Democrats, led by Nick Clegg as the junior coalition partners, and whilst it was supported by the majority of Tory front benchers, the majority of the party opposed it.
This brings me to Section 28… the only piece of legislation to diminish the rights and standing of LGBT people in this country passed since the Victorian era, and it was by a Conservative government, led by the idol of every Tory in the government today, Margaret Thatcher. This legislation effectively blocked any educational or council run institution from offering positive support to young LGBT people, whilst simultaneously curtailing the ability to challenge homophobia or toxic misinformation about LGBT issues, all against the background of the HIV/AIDS panic.
This legislation, as I have explained many times elsewhere, essentially threw back LGBT equality a quarter of a century and left a whole generation of LGBT youth to grow up without the same standard of relevant sex and relationship education, nor with the expectation to be treated equally, or fairly by society, and by the law.
“But Tammy, you bombastic welly-boot…” I hear you say. “That was in the 80’s, that’s ancient history!”
First, less of the ancient, thank you! And second, it remained on the statute books until 2002, where its eventual repeal was opposed by most conservatives, including David Cameron himself. Of course, he has changed his tune and thrown himself behind the cause, and I will not fault Cameron for his shift in position, but it cost him the support of much of his party. They wouldn’t oust him as PM though, and especially not when they needed a majority win at the next election, which they have now achieved. Of course that does not make his position safe.
He has tried to appease those on the backbenches… the little Englanders and safe-seat Tories who prop up the idea of moral fortitude within the party… with two consecutive equality ministers who opposed the Equal Marriage act (yet now who apparently support it… convenient huh?). Perhaps we should petition for an Atheist to be made Archbishop of Canterbury.
Basically, the Tory record on LGBT rights is as follows. As a party, they introduced Section 28 and stood against its repeal. They stood against equalisation of the age of consent laws, and they stood against the introduction of civil partnerships. Twice as many voted against the third reading of the Gender Recognition act 2004, as voted for it, with many abstaining from voting altogether, and over half opposed the introduction of equal marriage in the last parliament. They have the benefit of appearing tolerant with a leadership and front bench openly supporting LGBT rights, without having to actually be tolerant.
Now they wish to revoke the Human Rights act, upon which many advances on LGBT rights were argued and brought into law. There are no Lib-Dems left to reign the Tories in. Labour are in disarray and UKIP are still homophobic twats. Essentially, we’re in trouble.