The Tories - Still Homophobic
Peter Tatchell says the Conservative Party claims to be more liberal-minded and caring, but in reality it still supports anti-gay discrimination.
The most telling symbol of continuing Conservative homophobia is the party's refusal to support gay equality on any issue. Whenever there is an attempt in parliament to overturn legal inequality, the Tories always vote for discrimination.
We are seeing it right now over Section 28, with the Conservative Party opposing repeal and William Hague ordering every Tory MP to vote against abolition. Those who vote in favour of getting rid of Section 28 will face expulsion from the parliamentary Conservative Party.
This is hard-line Conservatism at its worst: intolerant, dictatorial, bullying and homophobic. Remember the way Tory MP Shaun Woodward was sacked because he dared to support the repeal of Section 28?
Despite attempts by Tory spin-doctors to project the image of a softer, gentler party, the desperate moves by William Hague to save Section 28 prove that it is all a gigantic PR ploy, with no sincerity or substance. Deep down, when it comes to the crunch, the Tory leadership still opposes lesbian and gay human rights every time.
The Conservatives are now the only elected political party at Westminster that totally rejects any commitment to queer equality. In none of their policy documents is there any expression of sympathy - let alone support - for equal rights.
It is true that William Hague personally voted for an equal age of consent of 16 - once way back in 1994, but not since he became party leader. In successive parliamentary debates over the last two years, he has had three opportunities to vote for 16, but has ducked out of every one. Perhaps he had an important dinner party to attend? What does that say about his sincerity and commitment to an equal age of consent?
And where does William stand on all the other aspects of homophobic discrimination? Responding to an OutRage! letter last year, Hague refused to support gay equality with regard to partnership rights, military service, sexual offences, fostering and adoption, hate crimes and protection against discrimination. On all these issues, he backs the discriminatory status quo. So much for his self-proclaimed caring Conservatism!
Just look at what his fellow Tory Ministers and MPs have been doing in Parliament. They opposed an amendment to the Human Rights Act that would have protected homosexuals and people with HIV against discrimination in housing and employment. When they had an opportunity to back an amendment to the Crime & Disorder Bill to crack down on homophobic hate crimes, William Hague's flunkeys opposed that too.
Worst of all, some of the biggest Tory homophobes are themselves secret queers. They publicly denounce homosexuality and vote for anti-gay laws, while privately having furtive, illicit homosexual affairs. What a bunch of dishonest hypocritical homophobes!
Why should any self-respecting lesbian or gay man support a party that treats our human rights with such disdain and contempt?
Published on the Rainbow Network website, February 2000.
Copyright Peter Tatchell 2000. All rights reserved.
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