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Sir Ian McKellen: Gay marriage has to be on Stonewall’s agenda

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  1. I am waiting to hear back from Stonewall on the issue of homophobic bullying and the media. Hope they will reply soon.

  2. Nice to see there are people who understand what the other priorities are. Equal marriage is important but will happen with or without Stonewall. Stopping homophobic bullying in school or the workplace is going to take a lot more work than changing marriage law and we still need to support them in that work.

    (as ever, I am still very much PRO equal marriage!)

  3. I don’t think if we just wait and do nothing marriage equality will just automatically happen. It won’t magically happen by itself.

    No-one is disputing that there are other LGBT issues but all major parties have come out in some way in favour of it and we should seize the opportunity now and not later and personally I can only think that it will only help homophobic bullying in schools. It certainly will not do any harm.

    But thanks at least for supporting marriage equality and encouraging Sonewall to do so.

  4. john(derbyshire) 29 Sep 2010, 3:41pm

    Dave-don`t expect a quick reply! Personally I thing the Ben Summerskill has to either support gay marriage-or resign. There are only these 2 options left to him. But don`t dilly dally Ben-the overwhelming opinion (outside the Tory party) is against you.

  5. Considering that Stonewall is undermining the campaign for marriage equality through the actions of their treacherous leader; I would prefer that a different LGBT group (which is fully pro-equality) took over the anti-bullying campaign from Stonewall.

    We need to get over this false idea that we rely on Stonewall for our rights.

    Homophobic bullying is clearly a priority (and more urgent than marriage equality) but Stonewall’s active undermining of marriage equality and their point blank refusal to engage with the LGBT community on their agenda; or priorities; and their refusal to admit on whose behalf they are working; undermines everything else that Stonewall does. It completely undermines their credibility as an equality organisation.

    If they don’t believe that LGBT people are fully equal citizens deserving of fully equal rights; then who knows how they will compromise on the issue of homophobic bullying.

    Stonewall has until November 4th to clarify their position on marriage equality. If they have not come out in favour of full legal equality for LGBT people by the time of their annual awards ceremony in the V&A museum on November 4th; they are issuing an open invite to the LGBT community to loudly protest their awards ceremony.

    I like Ian McKellen a lot. He surely agrees that there is no reason on earth why marriage equality cannot be campaigned for at the same time as the campaign against homophobic bullying.

  6. So now, does anyone really believe that homophobic bullying in schools and homophobia in general will stop even if laws are passed to ban it? Of course it won’t. It will take decades maybe centuries for that to happen if at all. Though I’m glad Sir Ian thinks that StonewallUK should include marriage equality in its agenda, I definitely don’t agree that isn’t a priority. If we’d had it five years ago, maybe the incidence of bullying might have diminished somehwat by virtue of the fact that we’re viewed very differently via civil partnerships, as if our relationships are not equal to the majority. In the mind of a bully, that sends a clear message that because we’re treated as a separate class, the only one that is, then its ok to mock and take advantage of us, bullying being the end result.

    So, why is it that StonewallUK can’t multi-task? Why can’t marriage equality be an equal priority? Peter Tatchell could do a far better job and be more effective than Summerskill could ever imagine. Sometimes the squeaky wheel gets the most attention. He’s done a lot more for our rights than Summerskill is capable of. I’m not saying StonewallUK hasn’t done some good, yes it has, but to consider marriage equality not a priority, then clearly he’s not fit to lead. Time for him to make way for someone who is.

    Its also time that the House of Lords were abolished. Its undemocratic, anachronistic and comprised of people who aren’t elected to decide our fate. Even more insidious is the fact that religious clerics are among them, the bigot base that the Tory party kow-tows to (Blair did this with civil partnerships) and which would rather appease than do the right thing by us but to whom CallmeDave will pay lipservice on the issue of marriage equality. You can bet Cameron won’t support us because he’ll be taking his marching orders from Summerskill on full equality which translates into inequality.

  7. I’m not someone who supports the “Priorty” LGBT agenda (I think it’s a full package and ignoring one part undermines campaigns in other parts), and there’s no love lost for Stonewall from my side. But this is the statement I would have liked to see Stonewall release many weeks (if not years) ago.

    If Ben Summerskill had said “Of course I support marriage equality, but I’ve got higher priorities” then there would never have been an issue (I might not have agreed with it, but at least I could understand it).

    Instead he’s actively criticised and downplayed marriage as even an issue to be considered at any point. Just look at his actions during the ongoing civil partnerships consultation the Government is conducting. Ben Summerskill doesn’t just think it’s not a priority right now, he thinks he is completely unnecessary at any time!

    Summerskill could learn from McKellen. Sadly he, and Stonewall, have been so reluctant to even listen to criticism (let alone respond sensibly to it) that I doubt he will. I hope Stonewall ceases operations so a more democratic, progressive organisation can take it’s place.

  8. it seems simplist but bullying is done to those perceived as weaklings – those people deemed as equals could fight back and hence are rarely subjected to bullying

    marriage is a symbol of equality – so is access to civil partnership – so is being single

    it’s a choice universal not an obligation but a choice that should be open to all

    so how do you expect to stop bullying if you are supporting any discussion that gay marriage shouldn’t be needed.

    be perceived as equal – stop bullying

    as an actor Ian should understand the importance if symbolism

    let’s bully inequality

  9. Celso F Lopez 29 Sep 2010, 8:31pm

    Having inequality and bullying are not isolated incidents, they are closely related. It is all about the message it sends. ‘We treat you the same but don’t sit on the front seat’.

  10. Well said, Celso F Lopez. When society sends the subtle message that we’re not quite as good as everyone else, and, indeed, WHO we are is open to criticism from many religious people and that’s perfectly OK, then it’s very hard to try to teach children that LGBT people are equal. If they saw us truly being treated equally in very sphere, then gradually the situation would improve.

    As others have said, I see no reason why Stonewall can’t do both. It seems rather a pathetic excuse. I do appreciate their work on homophobic bullying, but I find it hard to believe that that takes up every hour of every day to such an extent that they couldn’t even support the push for marriage equality or draw up a proper statement. In my opinion, it’s not that they can’t, but that they WON’T.

  11. Stonewall’s work to combat homophobic bullying etc will not be able to go ahead if it looses the support of ordinary gay people who send it money. They are already alientating the 98% of gay people who are in favour of equality.

    However, they fail to grasp the fact that marriage equaity would HELP to reduce homophobic bullying etc. It would do a great deal to show that gay epople were the same as straight, not inferior.

  12. Try not to sound too enthusiastic about gay marriage, dear…

  13. But Homophobic bullying is just one of Stonewall’s 2009/2010 priorites but the suggestion is all the people in Stonewall and every hour of their time should be spent on hate crime and homophobic bullying. To do anything else would be self centred and selfish.

    This isn’t what they do now. No-one , including Stonewall, government and policition should be using this excuse to stop campaigning and supporting marriage equality now. We don’t expect Stonewall to be working solely on homophobic bullying now but from what they suggest that exactly what they think they should be doing.

  14. Well spoken, Ian! (My partner and I live on the river not far from you! It’s always been nice over the years catching sight of you on the street!)

    Ben Summerskill: apologise and alter course completely, or get out!

  15. Bill Perdue 30 Sep 2010, 4:15pm

    Perhaps it’s time to ask Stonewall to turn over it’s assets to legitimate LGBT organizations like those working to prevent suicide and bullying.

    It’s time for them to disband and be replaced by honest activists.

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