Mathew’s Musings -commentary on this week’s news

Fifty years on

As many (if not all) of you will know, this week marks fifty years since the partial decriminalization of homosexuality.

As an out and proud gay man, it is humbling to remember the efforts of so many people…most of whom didn’t live to feel the joy of (near) equality but who nonetheless kept up the fight and the campaigning in the hope that future generations of gay and bi men and women would.

I shed a few tears this week thinking of all the people who were demonized, criminalized, abused, and died, just because of who they they were and who they loved.

There’s still much more to do, of course, from doing more to tackle homophobic bullying in schools, to further acceptance in institutions such as the Church, recognition and rights for non-binary individuals, and further rights and equality for Transgender people.

Indeed, it was week that we learned of the Chump-in-Chief Donald Trump’s apparently unilaterally-taken decision to ban Transgender men and women from serving in the US military.

An absolutely appalling, nonsensical and downright stupid decision.

Also, earlier this week, on TV and radio discussion programmes about the 50th anniversary, I heard some members of the public call in to describe gay people and gay sex as an ‘abomination.’

It goes to show why we campaigners, in our party and beyond, continue to press for further acceptance, equality and rights for LGBT+ people and why events such as Pride are still so needed.

I’d like to end this part of my column, by paying tribute to the late, great Liberal and Social Democrat Home Secretary Roy Jenkins, who took the 1967 Sexual Offences Act through Parliament.

He may not, at times, have used the best descriptors of gay people at times, but his heart was absolutely in the right place.

But from his work in the 1960s has flowed all that has been achieved in LGBT+ equality and all that will be achieved in the future.

I and millions of other people owe him a debt of honour.

Single Market

Well, Labour really are tying themselves in knots over Brexit aren’t they?

Almost as much as the Tory government are.

One Shadow Minister says Labour doesn’t want the UK to stay in the Single Market post Brexit, another says they do.

Put your left leg in…

This is the political equivalent of the Hokey Cokey.

In out, in out, shake it all about.

The truth is, on Brexit at least, the Tories and Labour are two sides of the same coin.

They both appear to be prepared to play fast and loose with our country’s future and with our country’s prosperity.

They are playing a very dangerous game.

That’s why we Liberal Democrats need to remain absolutely clear about where we stand.

We are against Brexit and will fight to keep our great nation in the European Union.

If Brexit has to happen, then we demand that we stay in the single market and the customs union.

And, over and above all that, we believe the people should have the final say on any deal…in a referendum.

Vince Cable is entirely right, we do need an ‘exit from Brexit’…and fast.

For more of my thoughts on Vince, the future of our party and Britain’s place in the EU, please pick up a copy of the current edition of national newspaper The New European and read my piece on page 15. Thanks.

BBC

There’s no excuse at all for the BBC’s gender and, indeed, BAME pay gap.

The Director General and his staff need to act now and have the gap closed way before its self-imposed current deadline of 2020.

But, for all of the BBC’s faults, we who believe in public service broadcasting should beware playing in to the hands of the likes of Rupert Murdoch and Paul Dacre.

They hate the BBC and the liberal, multicultural, modern Britain it highlights in its radio, television and online programming and content every day of the year.

The BBC is a liberal (if not Liberal Democrat) beacon – here and around the world – and, whilst we should criticise it when we need to, we must also champion its continued existence as a licence-fee funded public broadcaster.

 

* Mathew Hulbert is a parish Councillor in Leicestershire.

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4 Comments

  • Bill Fowler 29th Jul '17 - 9:01am

    I am interested to learn how Lib Dems will deal with homophobic behavior in social housing where it seems most concentrated, with a very narrow mindset in such close knit communities and where everyone is looking into everyone else’s business and expecting a fairly uniform level of behavior?

  • Leo Abse promoted the 1967 private member’s bills to decriminalise male homosexual relations. Roy Jenkins was Home Secretary.

  • Gordon Lishman 30th Jul '17 - 2:55pm

    Many of us, gay and straight, were involved in the campaign before 1967 and after that in promoting changes in law, practice, thought and opinion to move ever further away from the prejudices which disfigured civilised society.

    I ran an “education campaign” in the Liberal Party in the early 70s to change attitudes amongst our comrades. Which brings me to refer to Bernard Greaves, the campaigner for gay rights who transformed the thinking of many in the Party, including me.

    Someone really should write up the history of the Liberal Party’s campaigning on gay rights from, say, Ludovic Kennedy, to Lynne Featherstone. Bernard’s role would be the thread running through the whole period.

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