Stonewall withdraw their inaccurate election graphic – but don’t replace it with one which accurately reflects Lib Dem achievements

Every time you think it’s safe to like Stonewall again, they do something tribally partisan for the Labour Party. As I reported yesterday, they produced a graphic that gave Labour full marks to their questions, but only 2/5 for Liberal Democrats. A cursory glance at the manifesto would have given us full marks, as LGBT + Lib Dems Chair Dave Page and Communities Minister Stephen Williams told Pink News.

I’m astounded by this grossly misleading graphic, suggesting the Liberal Democrats have little to say about LGB&T rights in our manifesto. The opposite is true.

We have seven specific policies including making anti gay chanting an offence, promoting international recognition of same sex marriages and more action on homophobic bullying. As a Stonewall member I am deeply disappointed that they have chosen to spell out Labour Party policies and ignore Lib Dem proposals, which build on our long standing commitment to gay rights.

Liz Barker’s tweets in response were also very informative.

Stonewall have now withdrawn the graphic. It’s a great pity that they couldn’t bring themselves to correct the bits that they got wrong which would get rid of the obvious bias towards Labour. They made a very long and avoiding the issue apology on their Facebook page. I guess  they may have realised that putting out such a politically biased and misleading graphic may have caused problems with their charitable status. I would be surprised if nobody complained to the Charity Commission about it.  I am not going to because ultimately we should all be on the same side, working together to advance LGBT equality, but I hope that they have learned their lesson. Their Facebook post reads:

We’re very sorry if the graphic we shared yesterday was confusing in any way. We’ve made the decision to take it down following all your feedback, and because we don’t want it to cloud the issues at hand. That is, we want the focus to be on the issues and commitments that will achieve equality for all LGBT people.

We identified a number of core issues that will be important to LGBT people in the next Westminster government, specifically a commitment to tackle hate crime, combatting homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in education, increased help and aid to international communities and LGBT activists and reviewing the laws affecting trans people. These shaped the asks we included in our election manifesto (see more at www.stonewall.org.uk/election where you can download our full manifesto).

The graphic was intended to show how far each of the main political parties has committed to our asks, specifically relating to LGBT people, in their manifestos for the next Westminster government. It was absolutely not intended to be a record of achievements to date in Westminster and the devolved administrations. Nor was it intended to draw attention away from more than 30 LGBT commitments made by the parties in their Westminster manifestos.

To see such diversity in commitments is something that we welcome, as it demonstrates an overriding commitment to LGBT equality. More information can be found at www.stonewall.org.uk/manifestos

However, we’ve only seen one party make a manifesto commitment to review the laws affecting trans people, specifically the Gender Recognition Act. This simply isn’t good enough, and it is clear from its absence that we still have a lot to do.

And while it’s good to see them so keen to see a review of the law affecting transgender people, given their new found commitment to campaign on their behalf,  there is so much more that needs to be done. It’s worth pointing out that it was our Lynne Featherstone who launched the first ever action plan for transgender equality.

 

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

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4 Comments

  • “I am not going to because ultimately we should all be on the same side, working together to advance LGBT equality”

    That’s how it ought to be, but over the past five years I’ve debated with several Lib Dem posters on here (Dave Page, primarily) who have repeatedly downplayed and even outright denounced Labour’s creditable history on LGBT rights. Every single positive advance between the 1960s and 2010 was down to Labour, and Labour provided most of the votes for gay marriage. Like the man said – you reap what you sow.

  • Nick Tregoning 30th Apr '15 - 8:19am

    Oh absolutely Stuart. All those governments between 1960 and 2010 of which the Liberals and the Liberal Democrats were part when they did nothing to change the law you mean? When we got power we used it. Nobody’s saying that only the LDs spoke out or took action. Many Labour, and many Conservatives did so too. As for transgender issues here in Wales it was LD Assembly Members who brought forward the first ever debate on the subject. Yes, Labour voted for it, but they didn’t think it important enough to give it time for a debate. Are you saying that doesn’t matter?

  • “Every single positive advance between the 1960s and 2010 was down to Labour,”

    Come again Stuart?

    The 1967 reform for England and Wales was a Tory MP’s measure that only got taken up by a Labour backbencher when the Tory MP in question lost his seat in the 1966 election.

    The equivalent 1980 and 1982 reforms for Scotland and Northern Ireland were under that great Labour Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

    We got an equal age of consent… when Labour were forced to by the courts.

    We got the military ban repealed… when Labour were forced to by the courts.

    In 1999 Labour became the first and only UK party ever to legislate to remove trans people’s hard-won human rights, and later in their 13 year run Labour gave us an equalities minister who mocked trans people from the despatch box.

    Section 28, the Conservative law to make homosexuality a thought crime which Labour supported when it was introduced, stayed on the statute in England and Wales for an extra five years compared to Scotland because Labour were unwilling to risk negative headlines in the Daily Mail and so threw queer kids under the bus in the pursuit of votes.

    And so on and so on through Labour’s dire record of having to be forced and shamed into action on LGBT rights time after time after time.

  • @Jen and @Nick, you both prove my point perfectly. Rather than acknowledge the fact that every legislative improvement in gay rights occurred largely thanks to Labour votes (including equal marriage, for which Labour provided well over half the votes), you prefer to play tribal politics rather than give credit to people from other parties who share the same goals.

    Jen, much of your little history is either made up or a gross distortion of the truth. For example, you claim that Labour were forced to equalise the age of consent by the courts. Given that the court case in question was launched three years before Labour came to office, and the judgment handed down just a few weeks later, you can’t seriously argue that Labour had to be forced to act by the courts. An equal age of consent had been Labour’s policy for years by that point. Even with the court judgment behind them, the new Labour government still had to fight the House of Lords for years, and eventually invoke the Parliament Act, to force equalisation through. But people like you seem to think this should all have been achieved within five minutes of coming to power.

    Likewise, in your potted history of the repeal of section 28 you take no account whatsoever of just how difficult such reforms were to achieve in those days, especially as the House of Lords was stuffed with 18 years worth of Tory appointments (this was the main reason it took a few years).

    It seems difficult to imagine now, when equal marriage has just been accepted so easily, that as recently as 12 years ago it was still seen as difficult and controversial for a government with a huge majority to repeal such an appallingly homophobic piece of legislation as section 28. Many of the Lib Dems’ coalition chums voted to keep it. Gay rights have advanced over the past 20 years at a pace that once would have seemed impossible – and if you think that could have happened without 13 years of Labour in power, you’re deluding yourself.

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