What an interesting debate on LGBT (Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender) issues last night at Reading University. It was organised by Andy Adams, President of Reading University LGBT and was well attended.
Speaking were; Labour PPCAnneliese Dodds and James from the LBGT group Brighton, Conservative Cllr Rikhard Willis,Lib Dem Alex Wilcox and from the Greens Nigel Tart, Brighton-based National Green Party Spokesperson for LGBT Issues.
Anneliese Dodds and James spoke first, they had a powerpoint presentation listing Labours achievements towards equality for LGBT people; including Gays in the military and the equal age of consent. The others responded that what had happened was inevitable due to pressure of legal action and campaigning.
Rikchard Willis surprised a few people by saying 7 of the 18 Conservative Cllrs were gay, but that not all were out. He stated that there were bigots in all parties and that David Cameron was the party leader with the best record of voting on these issues (the others shook their heads).
Alex Wilcox had a very combative style of speaking, and engaged in debating with the audience to make his case that LD had the best policies. He also made the caste that his party leader had the best record on LGBT issues, and Brian Paddick London Mayor candidate in 2008 perhaps the most prominent gay politician.(1)
Nigel Tart paid tribute to the Lib Dem LGBT policies saying they were the closest to the Greens who lead the way on social justice. He said the when Darren Johnson was party leader in 2002 we were the first party with an LGBT party leader. The Greens lead on gay marriage, civil partnership is a compromise. Green PPC in Oxford East Peter Tatchell was mentioned by a few as a national treasure, though Rik did not agree. (2)
Nigel spoke about being sacked 3 times in 10 years as an 'out' teacher, clearly not all employers are enlightened.He is part of schools out who have just launched LGBT History Month. Hamaphrodite people should now be called Intersex.
There were questions about; campaigning groups Stonewall and Outrage, freedom of speech, trans people, sharing a platform with the BNP.
James said we don't have freedom of speech! He discussed the policy of Hezbollah to throw gays of buildings from his days as a Student Union organiser!
Nigel said we need a national debate on feedom of speech. Peter Tatchell likened civic partnership with apartheid.
Rikchard said that the BNP have success with disillusioned people, and felt that debating and out campaigning them was the best approach. Marriage is a classic British compromise, and the peers would have blocked its passage through parliament. He mentioned organisations rank outsiderscampaign to change law on LGBT in the military, positiveresponse support for Africans with Aids and 'Reading Aid Chorus'.
The meeting ended after a couple of hours, I think we all learned something about issues and party policy. So thanks to Andy Adams, the Reading University LGBT, and to the University.
After the meetingI did a little research
1. The 50 most powerful LGBT people in British politics lists Brian Paddick only at number #21, Peter Tatchell at #23, at #39 Darren Johnson.
#1 is Spencer Livermore Director of Political Strategy at 10 Downing Street,
#2 is Nick Brown, 57, Deputy Chief Whip and MP,
#3 Peter Mandelson...
2. OutRage! Invaded the Labour Party National Executive Committee meeting where it protested about the 35 Labour MPs who had voted against equality!
During his time in Gay Liberation Front (GLF) Peter Tatchell was prominent in organising sit-ins at pubs that refused to serve “poofs”, and protests against police harassment and the medical classification of homosexuality as an illness.
In 1983 he was selected to stand for Labour in a byelection, it was described by Gay News as "the dirtiest and most notorious byelection in British political history" because of the slurs against the character of the Labour candidate and gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell by various opposition campaigners.
Lib Dem Simon Hughes leaflets have been condemned by some for claiming the election was "a straight choice" between Liberal and Labour, Hughes has since apologised for what may be perceived as a slur in 2006 during the same few days revealing his own homosexual experiences and said that he is bisexual after being 'outed' but the Sun newspaper.
Mr Tatchell said: "Some of their male canvassers went around the constituency wearing lapel stickers emblazoned with the words 'I've been kissed by Peter Tatchell'. "On the doorsteps, they spread false rumours that I was chair of the local gay society; no such society existed." Mr Tatchell said one Liberal member admitted to him that the party was behind the anonymous and illegal campaign leaflet "Which Queen Will You Vote For?", which ridiculed his sexuality and "invited local voters to have a go at me by listing my home address and phone number".
Mr Hughes said "I hope that there will never be that sort of campaign again. I have never been comfortable about the whole of that campaign, as Peter knows, and I said that to him in the past . . . Where there were things that were inappropriate or wrong, I apologise for that."
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