...a blog by Richard Flowers

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Day 4308: FREEDOM FROM CONFORMITY –Richard Flowers' Message to LGBT+ Lib Dems


The Liberal Democrats have always been at the forefront of the LGBT+ movement for equal rights, pressing the argument forwards in the face of Conservative reactionaries and Labour half-hearted compromise and backsliding.

As one of Millennium Elephant's famous gay daddies, I'd want us to be back at that cutting edge, with an out and proud voice on FPC scrutinising every policy to make sure our communities are never left out where we should be included and that there's a proper section in the manifesto on what Lib Dems are going to do next to keep pressing for true equality. With the party’s emphasis on “Fairness” in the last few years increasingly focused on economic fairness rather than more difficult to measure LGBT+ issues, someone needs to keep an eye out, and I’m volunteering, if I’m elected!

I'd want to consult with LGBT+ Lib Dems and take your lead on which policy areas are of most importance. Personally, my concerns focus on: the problems of bisexual invisibility; on how we can widen the debate around marriage and civil partnerships to include polyamorous relationships; and on the needs of the trans community, how government should be opening doors not putting barriers in the way. Meanwhile, there are some bad laws on the statutes, put there by Labour as much as the Tories, making people criminal where no harm has been done. Those laws need to be repealed.

It's clear that Liberal Democrats in government have taken us closer to equality, if mostly in little steps rather than great strides. The one great stride we have made is marriage equality – which is why at the next election those timid late converts Mr Cameron and Mr Miliband will both be claiming credit, despite one’s Party having opposed marriage equality for thirteen years while in power and the other's Party still being largely opposed as their recent Conference revealed. We need to be clear that this has happened because of us, Liberal Democrats with Lynne Featherstone leading the charge in the Home Office, now followed by Jo Swinson and supported by Nick Clegg and the entire Party.

There are powerful forces gathering against us – not all of them malign, but sometimes we do need the courage to call a bigot a bigot. Freedom to love should not offend anyone, but if someone is determined to take offence, that does not and cannot give them a right to prevent other people's love.

[LGBT+ Lib Dems asked candidates standing for Federal elections to submit 150-200 words on what they would do to support the LGBT+ community. Being me, I wrote 400. So, presented here is the "extended cut" version.]

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