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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New Minister for Equality’s anti-Gay voting record

Theresa May, the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, has been appointed to the position of Home Secretary and Minster for Women and Equality.

In a move that will undoubtedly ruffle gay rights campaigners, Prime Minister David Cameron announced her appointment along with the rest of the new cabinet on Tuesday.

May’s voting record on gay rights could be construed as somewhat negative. In 1998 she voted against equalizing the age of consent and in 2008 she cast a no vote against the repeal of Section 28 – legislation that banned the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools.

In 2001 and again the following year May voted against gay couples being allowed to adopt.

May did however vote in favour of Civil Partnerships, granting same-sex couples identical rights and responsibilities to that of civil marriage in 2004.

In 2008 as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons she voted in favour of a bill which proposed that IVF rights should require a male role model – discriminating against lesbian fertility rights.

May replaces Chris Grayling in the post of Home Secretary. Grayling, who hasn’t been allocated a new position, caused a media storm recently when he said that bed and breakfast owners should have the right to ban gay couples.

In an interview with PinkNews David Henry of gay rights group Outrage said May was “the wrong person for the job

“She’s always been against gay rights since I can remember. I’m pretty sure she’s opposed almost every gay rights measure.”

Gay lobbying group Stonewall have so far declined to officially comment on the Home Secretary’s appointment however a spokesperson told Pink News: “Both coalition parties made a number of promises to lesbian and gay voters during the campaign. We look forward to working with Teresa May to see them fulfilled.”

By Gary Cosby

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

Related link: http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2010/05/12/analysis-how-pro-gay-is-the-new-home-secretary-and-minister-for-equality-theresa-may/#

UK introduces new law to protect against Anti-Gay hatred

A new law which criminalises incitement to homophobic hatred could land perpetrators with a fine or prison sentence of up to seven years.

The new offence of using threatening language with intent to provoke hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation came into effect this week and has been welcomed by gay rights groups.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, the UK’s leading lesbian, gay and bisexual charity said: “The newly-extended criminal offence of incitement to hatred will go some way towards addressing the hatred and violence directed towards lesbians, gay men and bisexuals in Britain at a time when homophobic attacks are on the increase.

“It sends a strong signal that such behaviour is unacceptable in a civilised society. Just like race, a person’s sexual orientation is an intrinsic characteristic for which no citizen should ever feel under threat of verbal or physical violence”

The new legislation is aimed at offenders who incite genuine hatred and does not extend to all criticism or the telling of jokes with a homosexual theme by comedians.

A ‘free speech’ amendment was recently included to the measure after religious leaders and comedians expressed concern that they could face prosecution under it.

Stonewall branded the concerns alarmist: “The important new offence will help prevent and tackle acts of serious hatred against individuals defined by reference to their sexual orientation, with a high threshold for prosecutions which must be approved by the Attorney General and heard before a jury” they explained.

Throughout their campaign for the legal change Stonewall says it uncovered a range of extreme websites and material stirring up hatred against gays and lesbians.

“This new legislation will send a strong positive signal, encouraging more lesbian, gay and bisexual people to report hate incidents. Gay people are entitled to live without fear like everyone else”

By Gary Cosby

For weekly gay news, chat and dating hook up at www.maleforce.com