Nick Clegg: I want to hardwire LGBT rights into our entire human rights agenda

Rennie and the Queen's Baton
The Commonwealth Games opens in Glasgow in a couple of hours and we’re promised quite a spectacle. All of Scotland is ready. Except perhaps Edinburgh, where the powers that be have decided, in their wisdom,  to dig up the road outside Waverley Station, causing total chaos.

Politicians have been all over the place in Scotland today, ahead of attending the Opening Ceremony.

Willie Rennie managed to get his hands on the Queen’s Baton (see the photo on the right).

I’m hoping he gave it back…

David Cameron was in Shetland with the little ponies.

You know what’s coming, don’t you? Although you have to agree that this time it’s not quite as gratuitous as all the others. David Laws is so much better with our little equine friends.


David Laws and Pingu


I have been waiting for someone to say something about a big issue facing the Commonwealth, that so many of its members have pretty awful records on LGBT rights..

And then someone did. Nick Clegg used his time in Scotland to visit Pride House in Glasgow. Pride House has been set up to:

play host to a range of sports, cultural and arts events which share as a common theme our vision of breaking down the social and personal barriers which discourage LGBT people across the country from participating in Scottish sports.

Pride House Glasgow will run from 23rd July to 3rd August and will be a place for people to come together to talk, think, relax and have fun.

The events programme looks fantastic.

Anyway, this is what Nick had to say when he dropped in:

The Commonwealth core values and principles which all Commonwealth countries sign up to are clear. They say that “We are committed to equality and respect for the protection and promotion of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights”

Yet almost 80 per cent of Commonwealth countries [42 out of 53 countries] that are represented here in Glasgow this week criminalise homosexuality in some way.

We’ve come a long way in this country towards achieving the genuine equality that LGBT people have always wanted and deserved. This includes last year’s landmark equal marriage reform. Yet there’s still a huge amount to be done across the world.

As we celebrate the bravery of Olympians who have come out – Tom Daley, Ian Thorpe or Nicola Adams for example – some countries are taking backward steps; putting their LGBT Olympians so far back in the closet that they can’t ever imagine their day in the open.

We can’t dictate how other nations behave but we can promote the principles we believe in – of a fair and open society both in the UK and abroad.

That is why my colleague Lynne Featherstone is leading an LGBT policy review, which was set up in response to the passage of Uganda’s new and draconian anti-homosexuality law.

When it’s published, I hope it will help us hardwire LGBT rights into our entire human rights agenda – through every bilateral meeting, every multilateral relationship, and every corner of the world.

The message is clear: LGBT rights are human rights. So we need LGBT protections to be a part of anti-discrimination laws everywhere.

This means absolutely continuing to support LGBT campaigners on the ground around the world – they are the key to change in their local communities and countries.

It means talking to multi-national businesses to encourage them to make the business case against homophobia.

Love is the same – whichever village, town, city, country or continent you live in. It binds people together and makes communities stronger.

I will continue to say that to all those people in power, or not, who seek to deny these freedoms to others across the world.

I believe in the principle that you should leave no one behind – regardless of race, gender, age, creed, or sexual orientation.

I’m now going to put my feet up, pour some wine and watch the events unfold. I’m sure that not all my editorial team colleagues will share my view on this, but, GO TEAM SCOTLAND! Ok, and England, Wales and Northern Ireland, too.


* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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  • David Evans 24th Jul '14 - 7:27am

    I’m afraid Nick seems to be grabbing at any standard Lib Dem principle and making it into another of his new initiatives in another desperate attempt to shore up his collapsing support in the party.

  • Goodness what sour comments this posting has attracted.

    Nick Clegg has always been clear and forthright in his support of LGBT equality and equal marriage would never have happened without the Liberal Democrats in power to make sure it did. Does anyone think the Tories would have voted for it by themselves? Did Labour bother to implement it? The answer is NO on both counts.

    Can’t you find it in yourselves to credit his leadership with anything at all?

  • I have no difficulty in acknowledging Nick’s promotion of LGBT issues. It’s his total failure to promote Liberal Democracy that I take issue with.

  • “I have no difficulty in acknowledging Nick’s promotion of LGBT issues. It’s his total failure to promote Liberal Democracy that I take issue with.”

    Isn’t the one part of the other? In which case, his failure can’t be “total”, can it? Presumably other parts of that total failure include things like the pupil premium, £10,000 personal allowance, free school meals, Green Investment Bank, massive expansion of apprenticeships. All, of course, totally at odds with Liberal Democracy.

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 24th Jul '14 - 3:57pm

    Sorry guys, it’s getting too sad of you, trying to make the same ‘anti’ whatever the subject.
    LGBT equality is here to stay important. Whoever leads on the issue, it is the correct cause.
    Liberal policies put forward by liberals is what the country needs. In this case it is what the world needs.
    Including the Commonwealth – especially the Commonwealth !

  • >Can’t you find it in yourselves to credit his leadership with anything at all?

    It’ll be over soon.

    All other contributions mentioned were Lib Dem ideas or policy long before Clegg, or someone else was responsible for the policy. He shouldn’t get credit for the hard work of others and being in a “lucky” position of being able to get into government without winning an election.

  • David Evans 24th Jul '14 - 4:17pm

    Sadly promoting Liberal Democracy means having more Liberal Democrats out there to promote it in the wider community, be they Councillors, MPs, MEPs, MSPs, AMs or just activists. These are the people who will support, sustain and ultimately take Liberal Democracy forward in the future into new areas and also in the old areas that without Lib Dems shouting about them drift backwards in quite short time. Until recently we were about 40% down on each of them. But the Euros plumbed worse depths than ever before. There are now vast tracts of the country with no Lib Dem representation at any level of government. That is total failure.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Jul '14 - 5:29pm

    There are some really awful LGBT laws about and we should start reducing economic ties and even looking at sanctions on governments who are locking up gay people.

    I’ve not been the biggest LGBT champion, but I have seen a general human rights opening in the economic sphere that a lot of people seem reluctant to go down.

  • @RC
    “equal marriage would never have happened without the Liberal Democrats in power to make sure it did. Does anyone think the Tories would have voted for it by themselves? Did Labour bother to implement it? The answer is NO on both counts.”

    Equal marriage was brought about by people from all three major parties. I don’t want to belittle the Lib Dems’ contribution because unlike you I am happy to acknowledge the good work done by people of other parties. But you cannot airbrush from history the huge contributions made by the Tory prime minister who ensured a vote took place, and the Labour MPs who provided a large majority of the Yes votes. The Lib Dems cannot even claim to be the party who provided the most votes in proportion to their overall numbers. It is a fact that if no Lib Dem MPs had bothered to turn up and vote, we would still have equal marriage.

    As for your question “Did Labour bother to implement it?” Well, I’ve used this analogy before, but it’s rather as if Labour spent decades baking an enormous cake, and then the Lib Dems came along at the last second, plonked a cherry on the top, and claimed credit for the entire cake. The only reason equal marriage was fairly easy to achieve in the end was because all the heavy lifting had been done previously. It’s easy to forget in retrospect just how fiercely things like abolition of section 28 and introduction of civil partnerships were opposed at the time. When homosexuality was first decriminalised in 1967, Roy Jenkins spoke for many when he said that while it was right to change the law, gay people should nevertheless keep well out of view so as not to antagonise people. For society to move from that to the position we are in today took a lot of incremental steps – including 18 years of backward steps under Thatcher and Major. A little more appreciation of that from some Lib Dems would not go amiss.

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