2009: Portal internetowy Lesbian and Gay Fundation: 08.10.2009: „Conference Pride or Tory Shame?”

Portal internetowy Lesbian and Gay Fundation: 08.10.2009:
Tytuł artykułu: „Conference Pride or Tory Shame?”
Autor: Andrew Gilliver

In David Cameron’s closing speech at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, as well as promising to get tough on the economy and mend broken Britain, he celebrated civil partnerships and alluded to a wider sense of family.

On civil partnerships he said; „lets be clear: not everything Labour did was wrong. Devolution; the minimum wage; civil partnerships, these are good things that we will keep.”

When talking about the family, he said: „I believe that a stable, loving home is the most precious thing a child can have….Now I don’t live in some fantasy land where every family is happily married with 2.4 kids. Nor am I going to stand here and pretend that family life is always easy.”

He added: „But by recognising marriage and civil partnerships in the tax system and abolishing the the couple penalty in the benefits system, we’ll help make it that little bit easier.”

Cameron’s reference to civil partnerships has come after a difficult week for the Conservative leader, as the party’s European alliance with the Polish Law and Justice Party has been questioned by gay rights groups, human rights groups and the wider community.

Ben Summerskill
, head of the gay rights group Stonewall, pulled out Conference Pride – a new LGBT event at the Conservative party conference – after the Tories welcomed ‚extreme’ European politicians and some of their new European allies to the conference.

Among their controversial new allies is Michal Kaminski chair of the Conservatives new European Conservatives and Reformists grouping in the European Parliament. On Tuesday he attended a lunch at the conference hosted by the Conservative Friends of Israel.

Kaminski is a member of the Polish Law and Justice Party, whose homophobic views have been widely reported.

Summerskill told Channel 4 News: „There is no doubt the progress that has been made in the last couple of years has genuinely been historic. It would be churlish of anyone not to welcome the apology a couple of months ago over Section 28.

„But the event has been overshadowed by the presence, not just at conference but on the same platform as some senior members of the party, of people of such extreme and offensive views.

„And certainly there are people I’ve spoken to at the conference today, not just gay people but Jewish delegates as well, who share that viewpoint.”

Stephen Fry, actor and homo hero, has asked Tory leader David Cameron to oppose the views of his party’s new European allies. Fry told Channel 4 News „This is a problem that is not going to get smaller because, as we start to pay for the financial disaster of the last year, a kind of great pimple of nationalism, homophobia and racism is going to erupt around Europe because there is going to be trouble with unemployment.”

David Cameron said earlier this week that he will be replying to the letter, and stated: „I don’t believe the Law and Justice Party are homophobic.”

On Wednesday October 7, openly gay Shadow Environment Minister Nick Herbert told the Stonewall Fringe event that: “we have his (kaminski’s) assurance that both Mr Kaminski and the Polish Law & Justice party are fully committed and object to all forms of discrimination including that of sexual orientation. Poland is more socially conservative than the UK but we have an opportunity now to show a progressive influence on our allies.”

Waldemar Zboralski, a polish activist now living in England urged David Cameron to keep a close eye on the Law & Justice Party, he said: „Although members of the PiS party claim to be for equal rights, their political record shows exactly the opposite. We must remember that Poland is a democratic country ruled by a Constitution which bans discrimination on all grounds. Therefore the civil and political rights of LGBT people in Poland can not be dismissed by claiming an opposition to a “European superstate”. We hope that Mr. Cameron if elected Prime-minister will rather uphold the standards of universal human rights in all European countries.”

Despite the rows around the Conservative’s new European allies, well attended events like Conference Pride and the Stonewall Fringe event, highlight that the Tories enjoy strong support from certain sections of the LGBT community.

Matthew Sephton, chairman of LGBTory commented: “Conference Pride was an official part of the Conservative Party conference in Manchester and attracted lots of interest from those both within and outside the party. It is the first time an official event has been organised on this scale and it is a clear signal to the LGBT community that we are valued and have a valid part to play in the future of our country and the Conservative Party. Currently we have more LGBT councillors and prospective MPs than ever before and that is something to be celebrated.”

However, protests outside the Conference Pride event from local gay rights groups highlighted that many in the LGBT community are still to be convinced that the party have changed.

Holding placards reminding the collective Tory throng of the party’s past anti gay legislation – Section 28 – and others declaring „Gay rights are not for sale” highlighted that for many David Cameron’s apology for Section 28 is not enough.

To coincide with Conference Pride LGBT Labour arranged their own event – Tory Shame hosted by Amy Lame – to highlight the other side of the political argument.

The Conservative Party Conference has highlighted that party politics are definitely alive and kicking on Manchester’s LGBT scene. Conference Pride or Tory Shame? You decide! Leave a comment below.

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