Tag Archives: LGBT

Brian Paddick writes…We need to reassure people that Liberal Democrats remain the most accepting of all the political parties, whoever you are and whatever you believe

I write as a gay Christian about the tightrope between freedom of speech and religion and prejudice and discrimination.

One of the fundamental principles of Liberalism is to allow people to do as they wish provided it does not harm other people.  When it comes to religion, what appears to be a simple enough principle becomes complicated.

Many religions, including Christianity, require its followers to proclaim “the good news” of their particular religion to non-believers.  There are interpretations of many religions that say intimacy between same sex couples is wrong, indeed that any sex outside of a marriage between a man and a woman is sinful.  The question then becomes, does proclaiming such ideas contravene the Liberal harm principle?

There are people who think religion is at least, mumbo jumbo, and at worst, damaging and divisive, and that whatever God, his Son or his prophets may or may not have said, it’s all nonsense, in which case, no harm done.

There are others who do have a faith, who are from sexually and gender diverse groups or who love those from such groups (family members, friends, allies), for whom it really matters what their religion says on these issues and who are seriously harmed by such declarations.

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Why we could all do with reading LGBT Youth Scotland’s guidance on supporting transgender young people

This week, the excellent LGBT Scotland launched a guide offering advice to schools on supporting transgender young people. 

It’s badly needed. Some young transgender people find that their schools support them very well. For others, the story is very different. They find that their school does the minimum that they can legally get away with and no more.

They fail to recognise and protect young people from transphobic bullying. They make a massive issue about things like toilets and changing rooms. I know one transgender young person who was made to use the accessible toilet – not something that they were necessarily unhappy with if it hadn’t been presented in such a hostile way. The problem was that the accessible toilet was kept locked, so they had to ask for the key every time. That was incredibly stigmatising and distressing for that young person.  It’s hardly surprising that their attendance at school was extremely low.

The guidance covers practical, social and cultural issues – from residential trips and name changes to making the whole school an inclusive environment. So why is that important for us? 

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LibLink: Vince Cable on the battle for LGBT+ rights

 

This week Vince Cable marked the 50th Anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality with an article in Pink News. He remembers the social context in which the changes happened.

The period that saw the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act of 1967 left a powerful impression on me. It was around this time that I returned to the UK from Kenya with my now late wife, Olympia. She was Indian, and we arrived in a Britain snarling with the racism of Enoch Powell’s notorious “rivers of blood” speech. Intolerance was not merely tolerated by the state, but enforced by it, with immigrants, women and of course members of the LGBT+ community discriminated against in a way that is hard now to fully understand.

But it was also a time of social change, even ferment. My colleague David Steel piloted an act that legalised abortion that same year. And gay people could finally have sex without fear of prosecution (provided they were both 21 or over, and it was in private).

Looking back, the sheer level of bigotry is shocking. Even many supporters of the reform referred to homosexuality as a “disability”. By 1974, the number of arrests for gay “offences” had actually increased. It was not until 2001, after a defeat in the European Court of Human Rights, that the Labour government was forced to repeal the criminalisation of “homosexual acts”.

 He then looks at the Liberal Democrat record.
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On IDAHoBiT, what is in the Lib Dem manifesto for LGBT+ people?

Today is IDAHoBiT – the international day against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia. Liberal Democrats have a proud tradition of fighting for LGBT+ rights. The 2017 manifesto, published today, aims to go further than any other party is furthering LGBT+ rights. However, because we Lib Dems believe that LGBT+ rights are human rights, a lot of the LGBT+ content in the manifesto is spread out in the various policy topic areas the manifesto covers. While I like this, because it means that LGBT+ rights are integral to our policies, not tacked on as an afterthought, it can make things easy to miss. In lieu of a manifesto index, therefore, I am going to draw it all together in one place, starting at the beginning:

  1. Our young people are bright, creative and want a world that is clean and green and that the rest of us haven’t wrecked. They want jobs, good health and the chance to choose who they love and how they live– Introduction by Tim Farron, p7, emphasis mine.
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There, he’s said it. You can leave him alone now

So, we’re teetering on the edge of a massive Tory hard Brexit cliff. The UK is in danger of breaking up because of the Tory preoccupation with finding the bumpiest, riskiest way out of the European Union. Donald Trump has his finger on the nuclear button and North Korea is deliberately winding him up.

Yet our media gets all obsessed about whether a man with a good track record on LGBT rights thinks gay sex is a sin. Today, Tim put the matter finally beyond doubt in an interview with the BBC.  

He said:

“I don’t believe that gay sex is a sin,” he said.

“I take the view though that as a political leader, my job is not to pontificate on theological matters.”

Mr Farron said that with a general election campaign under way, it was important to be talking about “big issues” like health and social care and Brexit.

“I am quite careful about how I talk about my faith. I do not bang on about it, I do not make a secret out of it,” he said.

“On reflection, it makes sense to actually answer this direct question since it’s become an issue.”

He also said the Lib Dems had “undoubtedly the best record” on gay rights out of all political parties.

Personally, I’d rather politicians kept their traps shut about what was sinful and what is not. So, clearly, does Tim, yet this whole thing was clearly not going to go away until he made a definitive statement. I feel more than a little bit livid that someone with a fantastic record on LGBT equality has been pushed like this. Nobody has asked Theresa May the same question, nor any of the other Christian MPs with much worse voting records.

Writing sensible stuff about Lib Dems in right wing publications once is quite incredible, twice in two days seems almost reckless, but  journalist Stephen Daisley has done exactly that. There was yesterday’s Scottish Daily Mail article saying that the Lib Dems must be taken seriously and now he’s written about what he calls the cruel hounding of Tim Farron for the Spectator.

Journalists feel no misgivings about doing just that to Tim Farron because they suspect him of holding a view they deem bigoted and because although he is a Lib Dem he is not a member of a favoured minority. Their transgression is not political correctness but hypocrisy and the impotent obsessions of identity politics. If we are to bring a theological critique to the campaign trail, a man who seldom talks publicly about his faith seems an odd target when the Prime Minister speaks so openly about hers. How does Tory policy on refugees square with Isaiah 1:17? Or their welfare reforms with Proverbs 22:16 and 22:22?

Except that would look priggish and doesn’t have social media ‘shareability’. Forgive them, Tim Farron, they know exactly what they do.

This was some of the reaction on Twitter:

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The irony behind tonight’s Corbyn media firestorm

By Jeremy Corbyn’s standards, it was actually quite a good speech. Pink News has the video here. He was engaged, clearly speaking from the heart. He talked about having saved a Gay Centre from attack by National Front types decades before gay rights became fashionable. And then, in true Corbyn fashion, he has to go and ruin it all by concluding:

Our defence of you is a defence of all of humanity and the right of people to practise the life they want to practise, rather than be criminalised, brutalised and murdered, simply because they chose to be gay, they chose to be lesbian, they were LGBT in any form

Obviously, being gay isn’t some kind of lifestyle choice. You don’t choose it any more than you choose your eye pr skin colour or whether you are right or left handed. It is how you are born. Everything about Jeremy Corbyn’s voting record on LGBT issues over the years suggests he knows that and that he genuinely mis-spoke tonight. Let’s face it, it’s not the first time he’s snatched disaster from the jaws of opportunity.

He should be aware that any inference that your sexual orientation or gender identity is a choice plays into the hands of those who wish to roll back the decades of progress. It is also deeply upsetting to LGBT people.

It’s even more upsetting when it’s being gleefully amplified all over the place by the right wing press and Tory LGBT groups.

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Tim Farron welcomes LGBT History Month

February is LGBT History Month, a chance to celebrate those campaigners who have made such a  difference for LGBT rights and a chance to remember all those who suffered as a result of repressive attitudes and laws. When I was growing up, I was heartbroken to hear accounts of long-term partners being frozen out of hospital visiting or funeral arrangements by family members who didn’t recognise their relationship. You could live with someone for decades and have no rights when they were ill or when they died.

It looks as though the US may be about to enter a period when these hard-won rights are cast aside and we’ll have new examples of the effects of harsh and cruel intolerance. There are numerous examples of repressive regimes where LGBT people face death or imprisonment. In this country, hate crime is on the increase. The road to equality across the world is still being built and it’s important that we all do our bit to help.

I am constantly awestruck at the courage of some of my friends, who took risks when same sex sexual activity was still illegal (officially until 1980 in Scotland) to support others and to lay the foundations for the much more welcoming environment we have today. Scotland is one of the best places in the world to be LGBT these days and it’s due to people like my friend Gregan Crawford, who is now Edinburgh Lib Dems’ Master of All Things Connect (seriously, he makes the best delivery runs EVER).

Anyway, here is his account of an International Gay Rights Congress which took place in Edinburgh in 1974 which ended up with 2000 people marching on the BBC:

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