gay news: london’s mayoral candidates unite over gay rights

It seems the one thing that could unite London’s mayoral candidates in the mad scramble up to the election on May 3rd, is gay rights.

Good ole Boris Johnson stepped in to stop a series of ads, set to appear on London’s buses, by a Christian group preaching they can cure gays with “reparative therapy”. The Core Issue Trust (CIT) was set to run the adverts on five routes through the centre of the capital.

The ads read: “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” which is an obvious dig at gay rights organisation Stonewall and their well known slogan, “Some people are gay – Get over it”. The mayor thwarted the campaign in response furious protest on twitter.

In spite of the incumbent Mayor’s block on the campaign, the Christian group have still managed o draw a fair bit of attention to themselves promoting the use of therapy to change the sexual orientation of gay people . The leader of the Core Issues Trust, Mike Davies, describes homosexual behaviour is “sinful” and his orgaisation offers to sponsor the cost of the treatment.

This episode prompted Boris to promise he will set manifesto on gay rights, before next month’s mayoral election, at a recent hosting. His four political rivals for the London Mayor’s job were quick to jump on the bandwagon at the gathering in London’s South Bank, brandishing Stonewall t-shirts and setting out their gay-friendly agendas to grab the pink vote and court the potential 350,000 gay voters in the city.

Former mayor and Labour candidate, Ken Livingstone told the audience Muslims have now become the target for the bigotry of right-wing groups that had been previously reserved for blacks, Irish and gays. He has promised to appoint a LGBT advisor if he is elected. Liberal Democrat candidate reveled he was bullied at school for being gay and pledged to stamp out homophobia and racism in the police force.

The CIT adverts may have become part of a media frenzy and vehicle for politicians’ hook, but the silver lining is the forum becomes open for discussion. Stonewall’s CEO, Ben Summerskill, made it clear he was happy to see that the main candidates for mayor are vying for the attention of LGBT Londoners.

Leading medical and psychiatric organisations reject the idea of a ‘cure’ for homosexuality, and believe this kind of practice only serves to breed a culture of prejudice. But if therapy could be effective to change the way we are, shouldn’t we start research into a cure for small-minded and bigoted behaviour?

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Election: Torys tackle latest Gay gaffe

David Cameron’s quest for the pink vote looks to be in serious jeopardy this week as yet another key Conservative party member expressed their anti-gay feelings.

It is the third time during the current campaign that a party member has publicly gaffed and embarrassed Cameron who has worked hard to convince gay voters that anti-gay attitudes within the Tory party have changed.
 
Philip Lardner, Conservative candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran, wrote on his campaign website that he could not accept gays as being normal – adding that “most” people would agree.

Mr Lardner told voters: “With experience as a teacher and a believer in parental rights and responsibilities, as your MP I will support the rights of parents and teachers to refuse to have their children taught that homosexuality is ‘normal’ behaviour or an equal lifestyle choice to traditional marriage.

“I will always support the rights of homosexuals to be treated within concepts of [common sense] equality and respect, and defend their rights to choose to live the way they want in private, but I will not accept that their behaviour is ‘normal’ or encourage children to indulge in it.”

The posting, headed “what I believe in” also included the view that the majority of the public believe homosexuality to be “somewhere between ‘unfortunate’ and ‘simply wrong'”.

David Cameron has said he took the decision to suspend and withdraw Landers candidacy “within minutes”.

As a consolation he added “I think people in the gay community know it is easier for people who are Conservative and gay to vote Conservative than at any time before.

“The Conservative Party has been on a journey. Has it been far enough and fast enough? Perhaps not, but it’s gone further than many other parties around the world.”

Within the last month two other key Conservative party members have made anti-gay statements embarrassing the Tory leader.

The shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling was forced to apologise after saying he supported the view that bed and breakfast owners should have the right to refuse gay guests.

Julian Lewis, the shadow Defence Minister commented that the gay age of consent should not have been lowered to 16 because it puts teenage males at “a seriously increased risk of HIV infection”.

Despite Cameron’s efforts gay support for The Conservatives seems to have nose-dived. A poll carried out last week by gay media site PinkNews.co.uk revealed that 58% of the 1,000 respondents intend to vote for the Liberal democrats in the forthcoming election. The Labour party achieved 21% and the Conservatives 9%.

The general election takes place on May 6th.

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit maleforce.com

by Gary Cosby

Senior Tory: Hotels can discriminate against Gays

Gay couples cautious about jumping into bed with the Conservatives at the forthcoming general election could only raise a wry knowing smile at the latest Tory gay gaffe.

Shadow home secretary Chris Graying has said he understands and supports Christian hotel owners who refuse to accommodate gay and lesbian couples.

The senior conservative was secretly recorded last week disagreeing with an equality law that protects gays from such discrimination – a law he had voted for.

In regards to the case of Christian couple Mike and Susanne Wilkinson, who recently turned a male gay couple away from their Berkshire B&B, Graying said he felt they should have the right to do so.

“I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences. I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”, he said at a Centre for Policy Studies think-tank.

“If they are running a hotel on the High Street, I really don’t think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away because they are a gay couple, and I think that is where the dividing line comes.”

His comments have caused anger among gay rights groups and embarrassed Tory leader David Cameron – currently wooing the gay vote.

Gay equality campaigners believe Graying’s opinion defies the equality Act 2006, which outlaws discrimination on goods and services on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Former Prime Minister and Conservative member of parliament William Hague defended Graying during an interview on BBC Radio 4 saying: “He supported the law then and he supports the law now and he will support it in future. He’s made clear that he’s not looking for a change to the law.” Adding: “I know him as a very valued colleague.”

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit www.maleforce.com

UK political leaders battle for the gay vote

It may just be a case of promises, promises but all three political parties seem hell-bent on wooing the gay vote in the forthcoming UK general election.

Liberal democrat leader Nick Clegg this week caused a media storm over his party’s commitment to gay equality. In an interview with gay glossy ‘Attitude’ Clegg said his party would implement laws requiring Faith schools to teach that being gay is acceptable and normal.

On the issue of gay marriage he said: “If we don’t want to discriminate, why do we make differences in language? Language is a hugely important signifier of how we segment society and how you seek to create differences between people. Since we don’t want to make differences on this and the law has moved a great deal to do that, we should be linguistically the same too.”

Not to be out done David Cameron has promised that civil partners will enjoy the same tax breaks given to married couples under a Conservative government. In a recent speech reported by Reuters the Tory leader was quoted as saying: “We will recognise marriage, whether between a man and a woman, a woman and a woman or a man and a man, in the tax system – and yes, that is a commitment.”

Gordon Brown said in his interview with Attitude that Labour would push for recognition of UK civil partnerships across Europe. The current Labour government’s commitment to gay rights has been proved substantial: During their term they have equalized the age of consent, lifted the ban on gays in the army and introduced civil partnerships.

It has been estimated that 3.6 million Britons are either gay or lesbian. Attitude magazine concludes that at a close election the gay vote could potentially “swing open the gates of Downing Street – or slam them shut”.

For weekly gay news, chat and soundbites visit www.maleforce.com

By Gary Cosby