LibLink: Adrian Trett – Why do Europe and LGBT equality measures cause such splits in mainstream parties?

Writing for PinkNews, as Chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats and Vice-Chair of the Liberal Democrats European Group, Adrian Trett says there are political similarities when it comes to arguing the case for equality and the European Union:

If you have the fundamental freedom to travel and work, live and reside in the place of your choice, then so does everyone else whatever nationality. Just because we may have an influx of Romanians and Bulgarians next January, no Europhobe can turn round and say, sorry you can’t come here, because we belong to a market with free movement of people. Without then saying sorry to all those 4 million British people who live, work and enjoy their lives in countries across Europe and tell them to come back home. That’s why leaving the European Union is such a non-starter. Yes to reform, stop travelling circuses to Strasbourg, improve the audit records and make the rules less bureaucratic, but there is absolutely no point in leaving the Union.

Similarly, the march towards equal marriage on the European continent is on an upward curve. Since, the Netherlands legalised equal marriage in 2001, Belgium, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, to name but a few have followed and with the vote in the England & Wales, and in France last week, let’s hope this enthuses activists in Italy, Germany, and elsewhere to give everyone the freedom to love who they want whether Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans or straight in Europe, and we all continue to share in the integrated benefits that the European Union brings to the table.

You can read the full article here.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist and member of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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  • Richard Dean 11th Feb '13 - 3:23pm

    Maybe it’s a question of trust.

    In a survey in 2006, 63% of UK respondents expressed a fear that European integration means loss of national identity, against an average of 39% amongst all EU nations. The nearest other nation was Cyprus, at 50%, and apart for us two, all other EU populations scored less than 50% on fear. In 2008, Eurobarometer No.70 showed the results of a survey in which over 29,000 people were asked, amongst other questions:

    For each of these, please tell me if you tend to trust it or end to not trust it
    > The European Parliament
    > The European Commission

    On average, a little over half trusted the EP, and about half trusted the EC. The UK scored lowest on both, with 27% or respondents trusting the EP and the same trusting the EC. The country next to us in scores was Croatia, where 39% trusted the EP and 37% trusted the EC.

    I wonder what an analogous survey would say about LGBT people? It strikes me that the EU and LGBT people both get a rather bad press in the UK, bad in the sense of misleading as well as biased.

  • Stuart Mitchell 11th Feb '13 - 5:24pm

    “let’s hope this enthuses activists in Italy, Germany, and elsewhere to give everyone the freedom to love who they want”

    Homosexual acts have been legal in Germany since 1969, and in Italy since as long ago as 1887. Which is a little surprising when one considers all the anti-Catholic rhetoric we’ve seen on LDV in recent weeks.

  • While homosexual acts were made legal in East Germany in 1968 and in West Germany in 1969, the civil partnership legislation which was introduced in 2011 falls well short of that the UK provisions. With some technical differences relating to pensions, a UK civil union is in practice equivalent to the UK marriage – the argument in the UK is therefore essentially whether gay relationships should have the same esteem as straight relationships, not whether they confer the same legal rights. However in Germany registered partnerships do not enjoy the same tax benefits as marriages, and gay and lesbian adoption is only permitted in the case of a stepchild. Moreover, though the SDP and Greens are in favour of gay marriage, both the Christian Democrat Party and the Christian Social Union, which have strong links to the Catholic Church, are strongly opposed . (The attitude of the Protestant churches in Germany towards gay marriage is mixed, rather like the Church of England with which many of them are in communion.)

  • Sorry, the reference to civil partnerships in Germany should have read 2001, not 2011.

  • Richard Dean 11th Feb '13 - 8:41pm

    If the argument about gay marriage has been about esteem alone, then I would suggest that it has been conducted in a seriously counter-productive way, and that it may be in process of causing injustice.

    I suggest it would be counter-productive because the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill does not mention esteem, nor any equivalence between civil partnership and marriage. Instead, it continues to assert that marriage and civil partnership remain different contracts. By offering two different contracts to same-sex couples, it provides them with a need to develop criteria by which to choose one rather than the other, and so reinforces the idea that one has a different value to the other.

    I suggest it might be considered unjust, partly because not many supports of same-sex marriage seem to have understood that the law is about contracts rather than esteem. Are we being conned? But also, not only do same-sex couples now have two options as opposed to one, they will be able to justifiably argue for alterations in the existing marriage contract, if they find that aspects of the contract do not suit them – alterations that may not necessarily suit opposite-sex couples.

    Has this argument really been about esteem only? Is it all a big hoax?

  • Richard, I suggest you read the second of Michael Sander’s 2009 Reith lectures where he explains why the debate over same sex marriage is fundamentally a debate about whether gay and lesbian unions are worthy of the honour and recognition that in our society state sanctioned marriage confers, rather than being a contractual issue. You can find a transcript at

  • Richard Dean 11th Feb '13 - 9:08pm

    Graham, I suggest you read my comment. Featherstone and Co are creating an arrangement which forces same-sex couples to choose between marriage and civil partnership. It seems likely to have the opposite effect of what Sanders wants!

  • Citizens of other EEA countries such as Norway are also in the free travel area, and “out” will probably be defined as remaining in the EEA. Whether or not being in the same position as regards the EU as Norway is in other respects is a separate debate of course, but free movement isn’t part of it.

  • should read: Whether or not being in the the same position as Norway would be a good thing or a bad thing is a separate debate of course, but free movement isn’t part of it.

  • “Richard Dean 11th Feb ’13 – 9:08pm
    Graham, I suggest you read my comment. Featherstone and Co are creating an arrangement which forces same-sex couples to choose between marriage and civil partnership. ”

    I thought Liberals were pro-Choice .

  • Richard Dean 11th Feb '13 - 11:20pm

    Yes, LibDems are in favour of choice, and choice means difference. In this case, the difference will end up as a difference in esteem, which is not what was apparently wanted!

    The bill confers the rights of several esteemed organizations not to provide gay marriage services, so there will now be an entrenched difference between types of marriage, and this difference will be based on a difference in esteem – it will reinforce that difference, rather than remove it.

    What a mess!

  • Richard Dean ” What a mess!”

    Don’t fret , the mess will come out in the wash. It always does.

  • Richard Dean 12th Feb '13 - 1:11am

    Ah, I see you have a deep plan, Phylliss. I wonder what it is? 🙂

  • Matthew Huntbach 12th Feb '13 - 12:14pm

    As Bertolt Brecht put it:

    The people had forfeited the confidence of the government and could win it back only by redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier in that case for the government to dissolve the people and elect another?

    The world is full of bright people who speak English and are willing to come here and work for a pittance. So why should those at the top of our society care anything for those who are less able at the bottom? Why pay taxes and so on to educate them, when there are others elsewhere who can be brought in to do a better job?

  • Matthew Huntbach 14th Feb '13 - 11:10am


    the argument in the UK is therefore essentially whether gay relationships should have the same esteem as straight relationships

    No, it is not even that. It is about whether they should have the same name. If someone says a gay relationship has less esteem because it is not labelled with a name which historically has meant a male-female relationship, is it not they who are prejudiced rather than the other way round, as is continuously being claimed in this debate?

    I suspect most people outside a few political obsessives can see through this – this whole “gay marriage” thing is just a way of the Cameron Conservatives, by winding people up about a token issue, to making out they have somehow become moderate and liberal, and so disguising the way they have moved so much further to the right on most issues than the Conservative Party of Margaret Thatcher and John Major.

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