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MEP Michael Cashman defends Labour’s record on gay rights abroad

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  1. 1. The Labour Party does not support marriage equality. They support the Apartheid system of Civil Partnership (or legally recognised flatmates) for same sex couples.

    2. Labour has not announced that it will be suspending aid to genocidally homophobic countries such as Uganda, Jamaica, Malawi etc.

    3. Labour has no plans to expel the backwardly savage countries mentioned in point number 2 above from the Commonwealth

    4. Labour supports the religious opt out from equality laws

    5. Labour is opposed to sanctions against Lithuania for introducing their own version of Section 28

    6. Gordon Brown invited the evil b@st@rd Pope Ratzinger to this country.

    Labour has failed repeatedly at home and abroad on LGBT matters.

    Fair enough that Labour are miles better than the Conservatives on LGBT issues. But the fact remains that if you are concerned about LGBT issues at home or abroad then the LibDems put both Labour and the Conservative Law and Justice Party to shame.

  2. SimonM Point #6 above. Wrong….The ex Nazi Joe Ratzinger was invited by the Queen check it out here.

  3. Black Hawk Down 29 Apr 2010, 11:57am

    wot SimonM said

  4. As much as I have always respected Michael Cashman for his work I do feel the fact this statement took its time to be made it is simply a case of an carefully written damage control statement.just to take the heat away from the real issue.

  5. So concerned that they send LBG Iraqis back to get murdered, raped etc? So concerned that they don’t treat asylum seekers from Iraq fairly? Squidgy’s right that this is too much like spin/damage control

  6. Although in fairness to Labour, the Conservative Law and Justice Party wouldn’t have done any better.

    I just loathe the impression that Labour is trying to create. They don’t even support the right of same sex couples to avail of the legal contract of civil marriage. How do they expect us to trust them on LGBT matters abroad when they don’t even support LGBT equality at home?

  7. paul canning 29 Apr 2010, 12:28pm

    Michael Cashman has much to be proud of in his work for gay rights internationally. I would single him out in this respect.

    Unfortunately, the rest of the party retains an appalling position on asylum. It is the government which he supports which is directly affecting Iraqi gays through denying Ali Hili’s request for his asylum claim to be expedited. To prove otherwise all they have to do is for Alan Johnson to intervene and order it. We don’t just vote for the Michael Cashmans but also the Alan Johnsons and unfortunately LGBT labour people are left generally trying to claim things will somehow change or in the case of their two manifestos ignoring them.

    How, exactly, is ‘the party’ supporting Iraqi gays? No, it is simply failing to take responsibility for the results of its actions and I stand by ‘shunning’. Michael is an exception within his party.

    There are also exceptions within the Tories – I would point to London MEP John Bowis’ support for Iranian Mehdi Kazemi who Jacqui Smith tried to deport but there are others. Pointing at the Tories in a knee-jerk way simply doesn’t work when you fail to address the party’s own record. Michael’s comments would have more weight if he admitted where the party has gone wrong.

    I do not think the Tories would be ‘better’, but on asylum they could hardly be worse.

    And of course it is simply false to say “perhaps they should be asking why other parties have not published [an international manifesto]” when both the LibDems and Greens incorporate strong commitments in their manifestos.

    I am glad Michael says “we should all remain impatient and be critical of states and institutions that do nothing to address [the situation in Iraq]”. What I wrote was not an criticism of you but the rest of your party and its actions in government. I know and you know that what is promised in the international manifesto may be good but is not good enough.

    I truly respect you Michael but it is a plain fact that on Iraq and asylum neither LGBT Labour manifesto has anything to say.

  8. But the fact remains that if you are concerned about LGBT issues at home or abroad then the LibDems put both Labour and the Conservative Law and Justice Party to shame.

    And if you are really voting on the basis of LGBT issues, you wouldn’t be touching the Liberal Demotwats with a bargepole. You’d be voting Green.

    As for the rest of Simon’s bizarre rant – well it is just that. Otherwise perfectly good arguments have been totally destroyed by angry rabid bile and preposterous exaggerations.

  9. Gay Activist Paul Mitchell 29 Apr 2010, 12:57pm

    Oh and yes the UK territory of Gibralter still in 2010 has an unequal age of consent for gay men, gay and bisexual men can not donate blood. Same sex couples still get not get a “civil marriage”, only a “second-class but better than nothing form of civil partnership” instead.

  10. Black Hawk Down 29 Apr 2010, 1:09pm

    Ali Hilli will be speaking at an IDAHO event hosted by Camden LGBT Forum on Saturday 15th May from 2.30pm at the 52 Club, 52 Gower Street, London WC1E 6EB.

    He will be talking about the plight of LGBT people in Iraq and showing some video footage smuggled out of Iraq which shows how the authorities deal with LGBT people.

    Please come along and support him.

    In addition, Rev Rowland Jide Macaulay of the House of Rainbow Fellowship will be speaking and there will be an exhibition of photographs by Paul Harfleet, taken in Camden as part of the Pansy Project at IDAHO in 2008 and songs from Pilar Awa

    Free refreshments will be provided.

    Hope to see you there.

  11. Mihangel apYrs 29 Apr 2010, 1:27pm

    Patrick @2:
    British constitution primer:
    the queen issues state invitations on the advice (ie under orders from) her ministers. She has no say in it, and has to be polite to all sorts of thugs, robbers, rapists, murderers, and bandits for the political advantage of the country (read the govt).

  12. I think Labour try to please everybody at the same time, unfortunately that means minorities still lose out. Religion & the media are still allowed by exemption from equality laws to publicly preach or ridicule the LGBT community. That’s just on home soil. As for Labour’s involvement in helping LGBT people abroad, this seems not to be happening.

    I’m not exactly sure how many of the changes in the law regarding LGBT are from Labour themselves or from European regulations & directives. So find it hard to actually measure Labour’s real LGBT stance.

    As for Uganda it seems the political world has become deaf over this issue & has no plans to intervene. They know all too well about it & many petitions have also been sent asking for our government to do something about it. International action & relations with LGBT rights by any government I think shows their true colours. It’s one thing attempting to please their voters at home, quite another for them to want to bother helping non-voters in danger abroad.

  13. No 8: Paul SW: you say:

    “As for the rest of Simon’s bizarre rant – well it is just that. Otherwise perfectly good arguments have been totally destroyed by angry rabid bile and preposterous exaggerations.”

    Please point out the inaccuracies in my 1st post (Number 6 has already been pointed out. The Queen has invited the Nazi Pope to Britain after Gordon Brown advised her to)

    All the points I raise in my 1st post are factually correct.

    If my post is accurate then please explain how it is a bizarre rant.

    Labour is better than the Conservative Law and Justice Party on LGBT issues.

    The Lib Dems are better than Labour on LGBT issues.

    The Greens are better than the LibDems on LGBT issues.

    But because of the undemocratic electoral system in operation in Britain I need to vote tactically and therefore will not vote Green

  14. paul canning 29 Apr 2010, 1:50pm

    Louise. I do give Brown credit for speaking with Museveni, adding to the criticism by Obama and others of the ‘kill-the-gays’ bill. It’s had a great impact in uganda and wise heads who don’t want the country isolated are trying to delay the bill.

    However Brown’s government won’t offer sanctuary to ugandans. See this lesbian case where they are still trying to remove her despite courts saying they should not

  15. @Paul Canning:
    Yeah the excuses made in defence of the home office in that article are pretty ignorant of LGBT issues.

    ‘SB would only be at risk of arrest in Kampala because the record of her bail infringement was only kept there’

    That’s nonsense; of course the police keep a national register.

    ‘She could internally relocate and live discreetly, as a lesbian, without fear of persecution’

    Maybe so if she lived on a dog rough council estate in Britain, she could move to a better area, but not so if the attitude is nationwide as it is in Uganda.

    ‘Even if arrested in Kampala, she would not face the risk of persecution because the harassment she suffered at the hands of the police when she was arrested in 2003 and 2004 was not sufficiently severe to amount to persecution’

    Obviously the police will omit any wrong doing from their records. How can anyone measure what’s sufficient? It’s different for each person as to what affects them & how they can handle homophobia. Have the home office discovered a homophobia scale? I’m sure Ugandan authorities will go to town on her now if she went back, for making this an incident between the two countries.

    ‘There was evidence of only one incident in which lesbians had suffered ill-treatment during detention’

    Well I’m sure the police over there write all their homophobic actions down.

    I watched a film called the Kuchus of Uganda earlier this year. It showed very clearly what the public attitudes are towards LGBT people in Uganda. The group on the film lived all in one house together behind a high perimeter wall, with the gate locked at all times. They even braved the homophobia there to give a presentation to a group of medical students at a medical school. These supposed more intelligent students behaved like animals, laughed at them & yelled abuse throughout the entire presentation & afterwards. They just gave up & left in the end. Homophobia is in the fabric of Ugandan society. The Home Office sticking only to political stance & lack of police accuracy in regards to Ugandan asylum is a cheap shot by the UK government.

  16. We shouldn’t be in Iraq in the first place and if we have caused problems there for gays and any others then we should now go out of our way to protect them … why did we interfer with Irag in the first place…Back to Brits, one of the fundamental issues they have when they live, work or holiday in Europe and the rest of the world is their civil status. If you ask the FCO, ILGA or Stonewall what the civil status of a CP is abroad there is silence, they appear to not want to answer the question saying it’s too difficult to sort out or answer, yet the lab have put EU recognition of the CP on to of their agenda, they can’t even tell you where it’s currently recognised, the only website that gives you any clue is a forum As for fighting for CP recognition in France recently no Lab MEP asked any parliamentary questions or wrote to the French govt, yet the lib dem, greens and cons MEPS all did so, why , what are they there for… no reciprocal agreement was obtained , nothing…. It’s great being concerned about Iraq’s sitution but honestly they can’t even sort out Europe. Also Pinknews can’t even report on the fact that the commissioner in the last week said recognition of civil unions are no longer a priority, most other gay papers have ….

  17. paul canning 29 Apr 2010, 3:55pm

    Louise. And despite them losing at court, my understanding is that the Home Office will try again. Your taxes at work. It’s sheer hypocrisy to cite Uganda as them sticking up for lesbians internationally yet keep trying to remove this woman but that’s the way this government has been behaving for years. Michael Cashman would like you to note the former and forget the latter.

  18. Rather saddening to see such disgusting racism from Simon. It really is quite mind-blowing that PinkNews don’t remove that sort of bigotry.

    This article from 2008 doesn’t show a very good record on gay rights abroad , the article states “The government attempted to prevent same-sex couples in other countries from gaining the right to enter into civil partnerships, the Guardian has learned.Despite the fact that civil partnerships are recognised under UK law, the government made legal submissions to the European court of human rights arguing that Austria should not have an obligation to provide the same rights to same-sex couples there. The move is at odds with its own professed commitment to equality for lesbians, gay and bisexual people” … “The government was challenging the claim of an Austrian couple, Horst Schalk and Johann Kopf, that Austria has violated their right to a private and family life, the right not to suffer discrimination, and the right to marry” …”There is no positive obligation to create a structure for legal recognition or registration of same-sex relationships,” it said, claiming that in other countries any such obligation may be out of keeping with the social, cultural and religious norms and traditions.”This was a very peculiar intervention for the UK to make,” said Nuala Mole, director of the Aire Centre, a human rights group also intervening in the case.”…. the government is still arguing that the court should not require European states to allow marriage for same-sex couples. It has told the court that the right to marry refers to “the traditional marriage between persons of the opposite biological sex … There is not an evolving convergence to the effect that persons in a same-sex relationship should be allowed to contract a marriage.”

    I’m sorry but I find their intervention in this case quite alarming and disgusting and pretty revealing on what they truly feel about gay rights internationally and also in the UK…..Please don’t put your heads in the sand , lab does not preform well internationally on gay rights and that appears to be fact ….

  20. Stuart – thanks for the link but that shows nu-labour as even worse then I thought! They are very hypocritical

  21. #18…..are we not seeing something in Simons post that you are, I dont get how you think Simon is racist?

    I think its pathetic how some of you blame western intervention in Iraq for the way in which a muslim majority country treats its gay citizens. Every muslim majority country treats its gay citizens like animals – why single out Iraq? It’s got nothing to do with the west or the labour government. The way in which gay people in the middle east are treated is to do with islam, and no one even mentions it! The only way gay people will stop being persecuted in the middle east is when islam looses its power. Is that going to happen soon, in my lifetime? No. So that means you are suggesting the UK has got to grant immediate asylum to all middle eastern men who are gay until islam is reformed? That’s just unrealistic, especially when you can’t even identify and name the ideology behind what is creating the torture and murder of these gay men.

    The same applies for Uganda, except its christianity not islam that supports the bigoted views. Until you get rid of those ideas, persecution of gay people will continue.

    And since when has the UK been an international police force on LGB issues. Jeez, we’ve only just got section 28 repealed. Let’s get our own house in order before we go and save the universe.

  22. paul canning 29 Apr 2010, 6:11pm

    Jay. Do you honestly believe that gays were being systematically hunted down and killed prior to the invasion? Iraq is by far the worst country in the world with hundreds having been killed. This would not be happening if *your* government *in your name* hadn’t a/ invaded, then b/ taken no responsibility for the consequences. And just a reminder that the invasion was supposedly all about ‘saving the universe’.

    People *just like you* are being hunted and killed and you think offering them sanctuary is ‘unrealistic’?

    As I said in my opinion piece this isn’t the first time this idea has been expressed. It was the same for American Jews in the Thirties who did the same for Jews trying to get out of Germany. They turned their backs and countless numbers got sent to their deaths as a result.

    This is the exact same consequence of your argument on asylum. If they are refused and sent back, which the government has tried to do, many will be killed.

    In Iraq it is not a question of ‘persecution’ it is a question of pogroms. Massacres, just like Bosnia. This is not like ‘any other Muslim country’ and to say we have no responsibility for this and should not help our fellow gays escape pogroms just beggars belief.

  23. First of all Paul. I fully respect you and think it is incredible how you have devoted your time to help LGB Iraqis, they are very lucky to have you. But in response to your questions……..

    “Jay. Do you honestly believe that gays were being systematically hunted down and killed prior to the invasion?” – yes I do, I know they were – I know it is worse now than it was before 2004 – but it is not the invasion that changed things – it was a fatwa from an Iranian islamic cleric. LGBT are murdered in other middle eastern islamic states and other countries in Africa. Don’t single out Iraq and dom’t blame the labour government for it.

    “*your* government *in your name* hadn’t a/ invaded, then b/ taken no responsibility for the consequences. And just a reminder that the invasion was supposedly all about ‘saving the universe’.” – they are not my government, I never voted for this labour government, and they did not invade Iraq in my name, so don’t blame me. And the only way to take responsibility would be to take over the country and rule it as we saw fit, rather than giving back Iraq to the Iraqi people. I’m sure you and Amnesty would have something to say about that though. And the war wasn’t about saving the universe, it was about protecting our country, the one where we live.

    “you think offering them sanctuary is ‘unrealistic’?” – yes I think it is unrealistic to offer asylum to every LGB in the middle east and other homophobic country that persecutes the LGB community – that’s almost the whole of Africa and Middle east and Russia and……. I wish we could. I wish I lived in a utopia where money grew on trees, the rivers flowed with milk and honey, where all the forgotten, persecuted and under privaleged people of all races, sexualities and abilities from around the world could come and live and find sanctuary. But I don’t. The UK just isn’t like that.

    “It was the same for American Jews in the Thirties who did the same for Jews trying to get out of Germany. They turned their backs and countless numbers got sent to their deaths as a result.” – It wasn’t accepting Jewish asylum seekers that stopped Hitler from killing Jewish people, it was a war, dropping bombs – and we only started to do that when hitler started heading towards the UK – we didn’t do it to save the Jews. And the Jewish people are a race of people, generations of families with a shared belief system, a holy book, who collectively escaped slavery and founded a ‘promised land’, which was then taken from them. The gay community is very different to the Jewish community. We have no promised land to return to, we are not a generational community, we have no shared belief system, no holy book(other than spartacus), and we are not a race. It makes no sense to use what happened to Jewish people in WW2 as a comparison. But if you want to talk about WW2, the only way that the antisemitic views that led to the holocaust were stopped was by defeating the nazi’s then stopping the ideology that caused and justified the persecution of Jewish people, the nazi ideology. Like I have said the ideology that is causing and justifying the murder of gays in the middle east/iraq is the islamic ideology, not the labour ideology. But unlike the nazi ideology, we cannot stop the islamic ideology – so therefore this will continue. Another way you can help your fellow gays in the middle east is to begin to try and create reform or stop the ideology that justifies and creates the persecution of LGB – islam. But you can’t even admit that it is fundamental islam that causes this – you’d rather blame the labour government and the invading forces.

    “This is not like ‘any other Muslim country’ and to say we have no responsibility for this and should not help our fellow gays escape pogroms just beggars belief.” – yes it is like every other islamic country and many other countries in the world. Are you telling me it is safe to be gay in Iran, or Saudi, or Yemen, or UAE, or Syria, Palestine etc. etc. because it isn’t. And I didn’t say we shouldn’t help our fellow gays, so no need to bugger your belief. Like I have said islam is to blame for the way in which the persecution of LGB people is justified. The jews would still be persecuted, and are where the nazi ideology is prevalent. Gays will be persecuted where islam is prevalent.

    Asylum is a short term answer to saving some men’s lives, and I don’t disagree to help LGB find asylum here for the time being, and I dont think any LGB person that finds their way here should be turned back to Iraq – that is vile. But very depressingly, this problem is not going to end until islam is reformed or the clerics that create this hate have their power taken away from them. And we can’t keep giving asylum to LGBT people until that time. It is just unrealistic.

  24. paul canning 30 Apr 2010, 1:17am

    Thank you for your detailed response and I appreciate your thanks.

    The invasion and the disastorous management of the aftermath unleased and empowered the forces in Iraq who are targeting gays. The UK as the occupier until authority was handed over failed to do anything to stop it. Yes, our forces were not killing gays but we had legal responsibilities to Iraqis which we failed to follow through on. Simply put, if we hadn’t invaded this wouldn’t be happening. Further, unlike in Uganda, the Labour government has not even publicly criticised the Iraqi government for their failure to take any action to stop the massacres. They have run a mile from any thought of investigating Iraqi government participation because they don’t want to criticise them. Read what the Foreign Office has actually said. The US has done the same. In the Iraq case they ‘cannot comment on Iraq’s internal affairs’, in Uganda Brown very publicly calls on its President to kill a parliamentary bill. When did Brown publicly call on Al-Maliki to stop the killings? Cashman says they are ‘concerned’ but has anyone noticed them being concerned?

    It is enormously worse in Iraq than anywhere else in the Middle East, or Africa for that matter. Of course gays are persecuted in Saudi Arabia etc. but there just aren’t the militias out there targeting them like there are in Iraq. The closest is Iran, where they are targeted by the Basij and they have been sentenced to death. But the numbers are far far higher in Iraq.

    There are other countries which are predominantly Muslim which do not suffer the degree of repression Iraq does and could be compared to other countries which are not Muslim and repression is at a similar level. What about Albania or Indonesia or Turkey? None paradises but neither is Russia or mainly Christian countries in Africa.

    Both gay Iraqis and Iranians are fed up with being used in power games to make bigger points such as to criticise Islam. Especially when they are themselves Muslim.

    I see this all the time. It is relatively far easier to get a campaign going for Iranians than Iraqis because Western people by and large are far more interested in the former than the latter and because other forces can use Iranian homophobia to bash the regime.

    None of this means Islamist clerics aren’t responsible or the Iranian regime isn’t – your point here of course I agree with – just that gays in Iraq and Iran can end up being pawns in bigger games and either used or ignored.

    You are simply wrong to use this myth that changing the system on LGBT asylum would result in the outcome you anticipate. Firstly, the existing system treats LGBT far harsher than others. Simple equity means it must change. Secondly, other countries who accept refugees and have more ‘liberal’ policy have tiny numbers coming in. If what you say is correct there would be masses of gays heading for Canada or the US or the Netherlands: there just isn’t.

    It is incredibly difficult for people to make the break from their country and family and it is only when forced to that they flee, most people, just like you I assume, want to stay in the culture and country they know. This is historically true with asylum, numbers always relate to the conflicts going on in the world and it’s worth reminding that compared to many other countries we don’t accept that many. Asylum is *not economic migration. It may surprise you but many Arab gays I know don’t particularly like some things about our culture and love things about theirs. We are not necessarily the ‘land of milk and honey’ to the rest of the world which we often like to think we are.

    It is also not just a question of fairness and following the international human rights principles we’re signed up to but also money. Most claims eventually get granted but as they are fought, in the interim, they cost taxpayers huge amounts. Plus the person is unable to work and contribute – even if they’re a doctor. The system is inefficient plus unfair and often plain cruel.

    You’ve missed the point about the comparison with American Jews. When they had a chance in the 1930s to save tens of thousands they didn’t do it because they feared for their own interests. This, subsequently, became a matter of shame to them. Us gays who have been privileged to be born here, to my mind, should have some feeling of commonality with other gays being massacred in Iraq and take any opportunity we can to help them survive what’s going on. I don’t think you disagree here but the gay ‘community’s’ lack of action and interest in the world’s worst situation for gays – which as I pointed out the failure of Labour to mention in its gay international manifesto is but one example – does, I’d suggest, invite a direct comparison with the actions of American Jews in the 1930s. You positively state that we have to look after our own interests first, which was exactly the attitude and approach then.

    To address what I think is your main point. You say “this problem is not going to end until islam is reformed or the clerics that create this hate have their power taken away from them”. Do we not do that by criticising the Iraqi government as much as the Ugandan? By hosting and helping those who from safety can help organise gays in Muslim countries to bring about change?

    To leave Iraq out of a list of nasty countries when the situation there is by a huge margin the worst in the world, the elephant in the room, and coincidentally this is a country we invaded clearly, absolutely clearly, shows Labour is embarrassed by it. It is simply wrong to compare the situation to anywhere else, as Cashman does. It’s spin. They consciously left it out.

    He says “we should all remain impatient” and I and Iraqis as well rightly are. And that’s means I’ll call a spade a spade and ‘for shame’ when it is needed. It’s definitely needed over this manifesto of theirs.

  25. We have intereferd with Iraq, we do now have a greater responsibility there, and of course it’s going to be the main Arab country that is going to be highlighted, the way we treat them is going to be in the spotlight more…but in my previous posting the UK had interferred in negative ways closer to home in Austria and their response to that doesn’t bode well for what they think of LGBT issues in the UK and abroad for Brit CPs. They have done next to nothing to get LGBT rights for British citizens abroad despite the fact thatthey have given away any bargaining power by recognising foreign gay partnerships and not gtting any rights in return, it is normal to get reciprocal agreements first!!!. Yes , I agree we have responsibilties in far flung foreign countries but I also think that there are issues in Europe and in particular how other countries treat Brits abroad that Labour have performed very poorly on …Yes, Brits don’t have to move to other countries and aren’t stuck in countries with no LGBT rights etc but some of them do pay taxes in the UK and some of them can still vote and they deserve mor effort from the government to secure their rights….The title of the article is about defending gay rights abroad and not getting our own house in order in the UK which if you haven’t noticed isn’t that bad for gay people and probably won’t get any worse under any major party ….syst

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