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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 16, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 24
UK election leaves LGBT rights at risk

Jeremy Corbyn warns PM not to trade rights for power
Section One
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UK election leaves LGBT rights at risk

Jeremy Corbyn warns PM not to trade rights for power

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The rights of the United Kingdom's LGBT community may be reduced to a political bargaining chip as Prime Minister Theresa May desperately tries to assemble a parliamentary majority that will allow her to remain in power.

May led her Conservative Party into early elections, hoping to take advantage of internal conflicts in the opposition Labor Party to increase her slim majority in the parliament. Instead, the election turned into a disaster for her government.

May's Tories lost 13 seats, including four of May's cabinet ministers, and their parliamentary majority, while Labor gained 30.

To continue in government, May had to cut a deal with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) of Northern Ireland, an anti-choice, anti-LGBT, creationist party popular with Northern Ireland's Protestant extremists.

The DUP has blocked all attempts to introduce marriage equality in Northern Ireland - making it the only part of the UK that still lacks marriage equality - and favors a so-called 'conscience clause' that would protect those who discriminate against LGBT people because of religion.

While no 'deal' between the DUP and the Tories has been announced yet, May dropped a hint of things to come by appointing David Lidington as her new Chancellor and Justice Secretary.

Lidington has been an opponent of LGBTI rights since the 1990s and voted in favor of repealing the UK's Human Rights Act.

Lidington also voted against the introduction of civil partnerships in England and Wales in 2004, and voted twice against the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013. In 2003 he voted to maintain the notorious Section 28, 'the ban on the promotion of homosexuality in schools' originally passed by Margaret Thatcher.

As Chancellor, Lidington will oversee British courts, although he has no known legal experience or background and is not a lawyer.

Warning from Labor
Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, meanwhile, warned that a coalition between the Conservatives and the DUP could have a negative impact on LGBT rights. The prime minister, he said, must not abandon LGBT rights in favor of 'clinging to power' by aligning with the DUP.

'LGBT rights are human rights,' Corbyn told Britain's Pink News. 'They must not be sold out by Theresa May and the Conservatives as they try to cling to power with the DUP.'

Corbyn's Labour Party said in its electoral manifesto that a Labour government would amend the UK's Equality Act to bolster protections for Transgender people, and bring hate crime protections for sexual orientation and gender identity in line with those protecting race.

Labour also pledged anti-bullying training for all teachers and LGBT-inclusive sex education guidelines for British schools.

Corbyn also said he would make HIV-preventing PrEP drugs available through the National Health Service (NHS), Britain's single-payer medical system. PrEP is not currently part of the NHS's schedule of approved drugs.

If May failed to assemble a majority coalition, Labour was ready to go through another nationwide campaign, Corbyn added.

'We have a program, we have support, and we are ready to fight another election campaign as soon as may be,' said.

Dissent within the Conservative Party
May was also hit with dissenting views from other Conservatives. Former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, for example, called May a 'dead woman walking' following the disastrous election results.

The Tories can either strike a deal with DUP, despite the Irish party's reactionary views on social issues like LGBT rights and abortion laws, or give up power, he said.

'I reject all of those views personally,' Osborne added, 'but the Tory party doesn't have a choice in order to get a majority.'

Ruth Davidson, the Conservative Party boss in Scotland and an out Lesbian, told BBC News that she'd demanded a specific commitment to LGBT rights from May.

'I was fairly straightforward with her [Theresa May], and I told her that there were a number of things that count to me more than the party,' Davidson said.

'One of them is country, one of the others is LGBTI rights. I asked for a categoric assurance that if any deal or scoping deal was done with the DUP, there would be absolutely no rescission of LGBTI rights in the rest of the UK, in Great Britain, and that we would use any influence that we had to advance LGBTI rights in Northern Ireland.

'It's an issue very close to my heart and one that I wanted categoric assurances from the Prime Minister on, and I received [them].'

Davidson did not explain what explicit assurances she'd gotten from the prime minister, or whether the appointment of Lidington contradicted May's guarantees.

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