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Britian’s Gays Go Conservative

Timothy Kincaid

July 6th, 2009

The Tories, the conservative party in the UK, have decided that you can be conservative and pro-gay at the same time. And over the past few years they’ve made a concerted effort to change the image of their party, promote gay MPs into positions of leadership, and just last week apologized for a 1988-2003 law that banned the “promotion” of homosexuality or teaching of its “accepability”.

“I’m sorry for Section 28. We got it wrong. It was an emotional issue. We’ve got to move on and we have moved on,” [Conservative Leader David Cameron] said.

He insisted that under his leadership the party was embracing gay rights and predicted it would produce Britain’s first gay prime minister.

The Conservatives even found that “pro-family” can be a policy of support for relationships, both gay and straight, instead of a code word for exclusion.

When David Cameron used his first conference speech as party leader to talk about the importance of marriage, he added that the commitment was as important for gay couples as for those who are straight. The conference audience applauded. From that moment, any doubt that the Conservative party was changing its attitude towards gay people should have been dispelled.

And it’s working. An op-ed in The Guardian reports

A reputable new poll has found that 38% of gay men intend to vote Conservative at the next election – more than any other party, and a swing away from Labour of 14.2%.

There are still remnants of homophobia in the party, and Liberals indignantly warn that this is just a ruse, an appeal for votes that has no substance.

But whether this is just a cynical deception or a sincere change of heart, it is definitely a win-win for gays and for the Tories. For the first time, UK gays have both major parties competing for their votes. And the Tories benefit by appearing more tolerant and modern – and by winning a larger share of the “pink vote.”

Someone send a memo to the Republican Party.

Comments

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AJD
July 6th, 2009 | LINK

The problem is that the GOP hasn’t learned how to be pro-business without wrecking the public good. That’s why they need the religious right, to dupe people into thinking they still care about the Average Joe.

NH Baritone
July 6th, 2009 | LINK

Apparently in Britain, winning the gay vote outweighs winning the Christian vote.

This a laudable trait. But he same is far from true in the US. Republicans cannot abandon their conservative Christian values by endorsing gay equality: they would simply cease to be Republicans.

The past 2 decades have seen the defining characteristic of “Republican” shift from fiscal conservative (George W. Bush oversaw a huge increase in the deficit) to social reactionary. And with the now evident lack of sexual morals of some of their leaders, they have lost fallen from their high horse on all of their principles.

Burr
July 6th, 2009 | LINK

The GOP is pissing away more potential votes by continuing its vice grip on hate than they would risk by giving it up. What are bigots going to do, vote for the (We don’t know s*** about the) Constitution Party?

We would see wide swing in both gays and non-gays in the Republicans favor if they took down that massive barrier of ignorance (and of course went back to actually promoting small government and free markets instead of embracing corporatism).

Pomo
July 6th, 2009 | LINK

Now if only America could get past the two party system and gay people who are politically conservative and believe in small government would realize that the LIBERTARIAN party has been pro-gay long before the democrats ever were!

Burr
July 6th, 2009 | LINK

If only the LP hadn’t decided to burn some bridges by nominating DOMA architect Bob Barr.. :P

Emily K
July 6th, 2009 | LINK

Good point, Burr.

All these parties have ideas that are just fine n’ dandy, but in the end, humans are the ones controlling the parties, and human beings are by nature selfish and corrupt. the Libs and Minarchists have cute party ideals but they place a faith in human responsibility that I will never achieve. This is only my view, of course, as a part of the single-member Cynicist Sarcasmican Party.

cd
July 6th, 2009 | LINK

It took about four years for Democrats to catch up with their voters and clear out some loud problematic politicians in their upper ranks.

The Republicans also need to catch up with a lot of their voters and clear out some loud problematic politicians. Could well take a similar amount of time.

Lucrece
July 6th, 2009 | LINK

It’s no surprise. The Conservative party is the only party taking a stand against so-called “multi-culturalism”, aka look the other way as its many Muslim immigrants spit on the face of assimilation and comprise a large portion of gay bashings in most progressive countries that take them.

Elisabeth
July 7th, 2009 | LINK

Like the previous poster said, the obvious reason is because the Labour government has placed more emphasis on appeasing conservative Muslims while in power than really pushing for LGBT rights. Most of the rights I would say are resultant from UK compliance with the European Court of Human Rights rather than real political will.

I have seen the same phenomenon in The Netherlands where many of my fellow lesbians now vote for more conservative parties, which would have been unthinkable a decade back. People just do not trust parties which claim to be progressive but ally themselves with the most conservative elements of our society.

tavdy79
July 7th, 2009 | LINK

Don’t get too excited over those figures. A lot of gays are planning to vote Tory because they’re no longer any worse than Labour on gay issues, and are less distasteful on most of the rest. In the UK we don’t generally vote for who we want in power, but for who we least dislike.

Labour could actually win back gay support if they manage to do three things: get rid of the Blairite/Brownite contingent, replace civil partnerships with full marriage equality, and pass the Single Equality Bill, which would extend employment protections to include the trans community. Unfortunately only the last of these is likely.

The legalisation of gay marriage in ME, VT, NH, CT and IA in the US, and in SE and NO in Europe, has reopened the debate in the UK. Public support is at over 60%, however Brown seems to be ignoring it (probably doesn’t help that the loudest voice is the increasingly-popular Peter Tatchell) and that isn’t going down well with LGBTs and allies. It’s a situation remarkably similar to DADT in the US – 60% public support for repeal, yet the senior pols aren’t giving it much support.

Similarly Brown is refusing to leave office despite even some senior Labour pols calling for his resignation. Once he becomes a liability for enough backbenchers he may be forced out a la Thatcher after the poll tax riots, but that doesn’t yet seems to be happening. It would appear that ignoring public opinion is infectious…

Terence
July 7th, 2009 | LINK

Careful in taking this poll at face value. (The op-ed was written by a prominent Conservative spokesman). As for the ‘reputable’ poll, the only such poll I have seen reported here in the UK was not a scientific sample, but was selected from a ‘network group’ begun by a Conservative member. Not all members of the group are Conservatives, but one would expect that in any network group, the early members will cast a definite bias over the later membership. The claimed 38% support from gay men is in any case unremarkable – it is pretty close to national Tory support by all men, in spite of the biased sample.

The larger point, though, is sound. There is no longer any political mileage to be made in arguing against gay rights, which are now clearly endorsed by all THREE (not two) major parties.

It should also be noted that for years, London Pride parade has included groups from all branches of the armed services marching in military uniform – as it did this past week. A far cry from DADT.

Helen in Ireland
July 7th, 2009 | LINK

Please take careful note – during the recent European Parliamentary elections, the Conservative Party was seen to align itself to various right-wing parties that included those with noted racist and anti-gay biases. They included the Polish Law and Justice Party, headed by the controversial Kaczynski twins.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/racists-may-plague-tory-europe-group-1710729.html

So, wolves in sheep clothing?

Latestarter
July 11th, 2009 | LINK

I too would be sceptical of these figures.

Many gay people in the UK are still deeply suspicious of the Conservative Party’s line on gay issues.

David Cameron may represent the more forward looking views of ‘new tories’, but there is a significant proportion of ‘old tories’ in the party who have ingrained anti-gay views.

At the large London Pride parade there were groups from both the Labour and LibDem parties, but no Conservative group, and the single Conservative speaker at the after-rally was reputedly booed.

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