The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has consistently failed to support gay rights in Parliament since the Labour party was elected in 1997.
Mr Brown is well known to be preparing himself to challenge for the leadership of the Labour party following the impending resignation of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.
Research by PinkNews.co.uk has shown that he has never attended Parliament when gay rights have been voted on whilst Labour has been in power.
Mr Brown has on 14 separate occasions failed to attend the House of Commons when issues relating to gay equality were voted on. He failed to support the government’s equalisation of the age of consent, the abolition of Section 28, gay couples being able to jointly adopt, civil partnerships and the Equality Act.
The registration of civil partnerships are the responsibility of the Treasury, the department that Mr Brown heads.
In late July, the Labour rebel John McDonnell, MP for Hayes Harlington declared his intent to challenge Mr Brown for the leadership of the Labour party. Unlike Mr Brown, Mr McDonnell has voted positively in every one of the fourteen divisions relating to gay equality held since 1997.
Whilst Mr Brown is considered the front-runner to succeed Mr Blair, he may face challenges from Cabinet colleagues David Miliband, Alan Johnson, or Dr John Reid.
Mr Miliband, considered to be Mr Blair’s own choice of heir was only elected in 2001 but has risen quickly up the ministerial ranks to find a place at the Cabinet table. Of the ten divisions he could have attended since entering the House of Commons, he has attended nine and voted in favour of gay rights on all of those occasions.
Mr Johnson attended eight of the fourteen divisions relating to gay rights since 1997 including votes to equalise the age of consent and allow gay couples to hold civil partnerships. Whilst Dr Reid attended only five votes, he did support allowing gay couples to jointly adopt amongst other measures.
Mr Brown could possibly argue that he was “too busy” to attend the votes. However, even with his greater work load, Mr Blair managed to attend four divisions relating to equalising the age of consent and allowing gay couples to jointly adopt.
Indeed, Mr Brown could be considered to posses a worse record than David Cameron, the leader of the Conservatives.
Mr Cameron did vote against gay couples adopting but did vote for the introduction of the Civil Partnerships Act. Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats has voted in favour of gay rights on ten separate occasions since 1997.
The voting record of Gordon Brown published by The Pink News presents the Chancellor with a number of questions to answer urgently.
He needs to explain why he has consistently failed to vote for gay rights during his tenure as a senior member of the Labour government. Mr Brown needs to clarify whether his absence is merely coincidence or if he disagrees with gay equality.
If Mr Brown wishes to become Prime minister of the United Kingdom, he must stand up for the rights and privileges of all in society including our community.
This article first appeared in the August issue of The Pink News which is out now