Liberal Democrat candidate Brian Paddick became the latest of the London Mayoral candidates to spend an hour chatting to PinkNews.co.uk readers. Here, the only gay candidate in the race talks about crime, homophobia in schools, Iran, Ken Livingstone saying the Tories were’ riddled’ with homosexuals and why he’s opposed to the ban on gay men donating blood.
As with some of our other live blogging candidates, Mr Paddick was given no prior notice of the questions he would be asked to answer.
PinkNews: A reader asks: ‘What qualities and experiences can you bring as a gay man to the role of Mayor?’
Brian Paddick: I’m not sure gay men have particular qualities! I have 30 years experience in the police to keep you safe, I have a business degree so I know about business and I love people!
PinkNews: A reader asks: ‘As a lesbian and a parent I am concerned about homophobia in schools. What will you do with your community safety and policing role to lead on and tackle homophobia in schools?’
Brian Paddick: We have to make sure the police take hate crime seriously. At the moment if you report homophobic or transphobic crime it is a bit of a lottery whether you get an appropriate response from the police. We also need to teach safer schools officers (police in schools) the importance of cracking down on homophobic bullying. I will personally be championing the Stonewall Education for All campaign.
Question from James
Brian, I am a big fan but if you don’t win this election, would you consider standing for another role in public life? And if you don’t win, which of Ken or Boris would be better for gay Londoners?
Brian Paddick: Thanks James. I am concentrating on being Mayor for the next few days and I will think about what next, if I have to, after the result on Friday! If you are talking exclusively about gay issues, Ken has the track record and Boris doesn’t but I think you need to look at all their policies and make your own mind up who will be better for London.
@Zmaj18: @brianpaddick Is there a way of promoting #LGBT rights among muslim population? #pinkmayor [via Twitter]
Brian Paddick: I have been working with liberal Muslims in East London on this very issue. They want to promote gay rights in the Muslim community and tackle Islamophobia in the gay community. Personally I have never had any problems with the Muslim community but you get extremists in every community and we have seen some of that recently with the ‘gay free zone’ campaign around Brick Lane. We need to bring communities together not promote division.
PinkNews: A reader asks: ‘Many people’s perception of, and trust in, the Metropolitan police is pretty low – this is a serious concern for minority groups like LGBT people that are at higher risk of crime. What would you do to reverse this?’
Brian Paddick: A recent poll showed 20% of Londoners do not trust the police and I reckon it is higher amongst the LGBT community because of the history we have had with the police. There needs to be a culture change in the police, where racist, sexist and homophobic attitudes are tackled and the police are taught that they are the servants of Londoners not the masters. With a gay man in charge of the police, as I would be as Mayor, I am optimistic that we will see a real change.
PinkNews: A reader asks: ‘Among others cities, the GLA has a twinning arrangement with Tehran, the capital of Iran where the punishment for homosexuality is the death penalty – would you de-twin London and Tehran?’
Brian Paddick: First I’ve heard. I think we give Iran a choice. Change your policy towards LGBT people and you can remain twinned otherwise it’s whatever the Persian is for “good bye” or words to that effect!
Question from Steve CK
I think now is the time to start showing people everywhere that it doesn’t matter if someone is gay, its just another aspect of their persona like the rest of their qualities/attributes, and therefore having elected officials who just happen to be gay should help drive that forward, do you agree?
Brian Paddick: That was my experience in the police. The Commissioner was afraid putting me in charge of Brixton would result in homophobia from the black community. When he tried to remove me as the police chief and local people objected, I think he wishes there had been more homophobia! Seriously, it would send a very strong, positive message if London had a gay Mayor.
Question from Phil
You were one of the first politicans to campaign for gays to have the right to marry. Why do you consider it so important and issue and what do you think of the Government’s policies on this?
Brian Paddick: I got married in Oslo. The Norwegians said “if we are to have equal rights for gays and lesbians, why do we have civil partnerships for one group and marriage for another”. Now everyone in Norway gets married. It’s as simple as that. Equal means equal.
Question from Tom
Do you believe Ken’s promise to cut transport fares is sustainable, or that it will just causes bigger problems down the line?
Brian Paddick: Doesn’t really matter what I think. Transport for London say if you had his fare cuts, you would have to put up fares by inflation +34% the year after. He’s just not being fair about fares!
PinkNews: A reader asks: ‘With about half of the UK’s HIV positive population accessing care in London what will you do as Mayor to ensure that treatment and care budgets are not further cut over the term of your office? What will you do as Mayor to support efforts to tackle the high rate of new HIV infections, particularly amongst gay men?’
Brian Paddick: NHS budgets are not being cut by the government, it is about choices being made by NHS trusts. As Mayor I have responsibility for ensuring health inequalities are tackled in London. With HIV on the rise and the gay community being disproportionately affected, I will use my powers as Mayor to ensure sufficient resources are put into this area on the grounds of ensuring equality of provision for the gay community.
PinkNews: A reader asks: ‘Elderly LGBT people are one of the most economically vulnerable groups in our society. Few have families, often because it was harder for them to adopt children and some were disowned by their families when they came out. What will you do to combat the economic and social deprivation these older people face?’
Brian Paddick: As I hurtle headlong into the older LGBT group (I already have a SAGA credit card!) for purely personal reasons I want to make sure that older LGBT people have access to healthcare and social support. Pride 2 years ago I marched with an older LGBT group to raise awareness of the issues and I support Age UK’s work in this area.
@benjamincohen: @brianpaddick what do you think about catholic schools asking 11 year olds to sign anti gay petitions? #pinkmayor [via Twitter]
Brian Paddick: The education minister has already asked for an inquiry since Pink News raised this issue. May I respectfully suggest that 11 year olds in Catholic schools are not best placed to make a judgement about gay marriage. I think they are far more likely to blindly follow what their parents tell them!!
Question from Chris
Estuary Airport / hub. A great opportunity to give London a world class 24hr airport and free up a huge part of west London for housing and remove noise pollution?
Brian Paddick: Boris has been watching too many episodes of Thunderbirds where the palm trees collapse to let the jet take off! Spending billions of pounds to build an airport miles away from anywhere that might be ready in 20 years time is not the answer to our economic or transport problems. By the time you get to the airport, you’ll be half way to Paris! Slots at Heathrow should be switched to emerging markets from short-haul and quieter, more fuel-efficient bigger planes can be used to increase capacity.
@tracytcb: Brian, Any plans to tackle discrimination from taxi drivers who refuse to take wheelchair users. I saw this in London recently #pinkmayor [via Twitter]
Brian Paddick: We need wheelchair users to take the cab licence number every time they are refused and as Mayor, I will order TfL, who regulate the taxi trade, to suspend taxi drivers who refuse fares. It is ILLEGAL for a taxi driver to refuse a fare.
@StuartBonar: @brianpaddick What’s your take on Ken’s “riddled” comment a few months back? #pinkmayor [via Twitter]
Brian Paddick: “Dog whistle” politics is sending out a message that only certain sections hear. In this case, KL was pandering, consciously or not, to the homophobes and the sort of Christian groups who wanted to advertise on the buses that homosexuality was a disease that could be cured. It makes me so sad and disappointed that someone who has done so much for the LGBT community should sink to the level of a bad 1970′s comedian who doesn’t mind who he upsets.
PinkNews: A reader asks: ‘Do you support plans by Tower Hamlets Cllr Khan who plans to ban “sex establishments” in Tower Hamlets in order to reduce female exploitation? Do you believe this should include the only gay pub in the area, the White Swan which has an amateur strip night?’
Brian Paddick: It is important to reduce sexual exploitation of women and things like lap dance clubs can lead to an increase in violence against women. Personally, I think an amateur strip night in a gay club is more on the comedy front than the sexual exploitation front! They are two very different things and we must not let homophobia masquerade as promoting women’s safety.
@christopherward: What is your view on the 12 month deferral on gay/bi men from donating blood? Would you support scrapping it? #pinkmayor [via Twitter]
Brian Paddick: F***ing ridiculous! Look, there are straight people shagging left, right and centre without condoms and they can give blood and there are monogamous, celibate and ‘safe sex only’ gay people who can’t. Base any ban on people’s sexual activity not their sexuality.
Question from Jason
What do you think the UK’s chances are at Eurovision this year with Englebert Humperdink?
Brian Paddick: Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!
PinkNews: Thank you very much to Liberal Democrat candidate for Mayor of London Brian Paddick for answering our questions ahead of Thursday’s elections. We wish all the candidates, both Eurovision and mayoral, the best of luck.