Our party have really hit the nail on the head with their pledges to tackle the still endemic homophobia there is in society. Clegg has announced in his interview with Attitude, a number of political reforms that will help provide more rights for homosexuals and bisexuals in society, they include (the list is taken from here):
- Force all schools – including faith schools – to implement anti-homophobia bullying policies and teach that homosexuality is “normal and harmless”.
- Change the law to allow same-sex couples the same marital rights as mixed-sex couples, including the right to use the word “marriage” rather than maintaining the segregation of civil partnerships.
- Reverse the ban on gay and bisexual men, and female partners of bi men, being allowed to give blood.
- Guarantee any refugees genuinely fleeing a country because of persecution over their sexual orientation asylum in the UK.
- Review Uganda’s membership of the Commonwealth if its government was to bring in the death penalty as proposed in the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill”.
My only reservation is with the first proposal, as making faith schools have policies that directly contradict what they are teaching is problematic. Furthermore, it may be picky but arguing homosexuality is ‘normal’ is not the right discourse to be using either. Personally, I don’t think it is right to argue that any sexuality is ‘normal’ and instead sexuality should become increasingly associated with individual choice and whatever that individual wants to do, regardless of whether society sees it as ‘normal’ (within limitations of course, obviously I don’t support sexual abuse or other sexual activities that abuse the civil rights – thus, where one has not consented).
Other than that, Clegg has it spot on. I actually remember recently going to a public meeting at York and Clegg being asked about the ban imposed on homosexual and bisexual men and female partners of bisexual men that stops them giving blood because of the fear of AIDS. Clegg honestly admitted that he had not heard about it but promised to look into it, and that is what makes this proposal even better as it showed he listened and has acted. The other proposals are also very promising. Equalising the status of homosexual civil partnerships to marriage is an important move in the right direction. Why should it be called something different when it is exactly the same thing, two people consenting to be together in law because they love each other? I admit I have not exactly been a true supporter of marriage recently, but I support people being allowed the right to get married and support homosexuals and bisexuals being given the same rights that heterosexuals have. In addition, I do support the move on the Uganda, but I feel it could go a bit further such as imposing more wide-ranging sanctions. Killing anyone with the death penalty in my eyes is wrong, nevermind killing someone because they like the same-sex!
The research that these policies relate to, where the Liberal Democrats exposed the illiberal voting records of the Tories on homosexual rights, further helps illustrate how ideologically disconnected we are to the Tories. Furthermore, the polices we have outlined to improve the rights of homosexuals also shows how we differ to Labour, as whilst they have made important advances such as the introduction of civil partnerships, Clegg is right to refer to the problems around calling it civil partnerships and not marriage, and furthermore, they have failed to turn around discriminatory polices such as gay and bisexual men, and female partners of bisexual men not being allowed to give blood. Distancing ourselves from both parties is the right move, as it further shows how we need to withhold our ground in terms of maintaining our independent values if we do enter a coalition. However, at the same time, which is something I have stated before, it also shows how we are more ideologically closer to Labour.