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Lord Smith: Tony Blair was nervous about lowering the age of consent for gay men and repealing Section 28

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  1. Robert in S. Kensington 12 Oct 2013, 2:12pm

    Doesn’t surprise me in the least about Blair. As much as there is to criticise the nasty party, at least Cameron stuck his neck out, went out on a limb to introduce equal marriage, something which Blair point blank refused to even entertain when he was in No. 10. I have more respect for Cameron than Blair. When politicians worry more about public opinion and re-election when it comes to doing the right thing, as controversial an issue can be, then they should not be in office. There is very little leadership nowadays among the majority of MPs, but Cameron did just that by bravely supporting equal marriage in spite of the nastiness on the back benches. Even some of them admired his determination and resolve to see it through in spite of their opposition to it.

    1. Derek Williams 12 Oct 2013, 2:18pm

      Not fair on Blair. Repealing Section 28 and equalising the age of consent were both huge in the background of public opinion of the times.

      Not only that, Blair had to invoke the Parliament Act to force it through the House of Lords, who refused to vote for repeal.

      1. Not to mention that Cameron opposed repealing Section 28 until long after it was gone (I don’t think he was an MP when the age of consent was equalised).

    2. Robert, in 2005 the UK was simply not ready and any Equal Marriage bill would have been defeated. Civil Partnerships have paved the way and voided most of the right wing objections to Gay unions. Blair’s government pushed through unpopular pro-Gay policies. We were thankful at the time. Please let’s not now be fickle and forget those contributions to our civil rights. When a future US president brings in further rights for GLBT people are we then going to curse Obama?

  2. I think many politicians reached their position on equality through persuasion. It was – and still is to some – an uncomfortable issue. Once Blair made up his mind he was extremely forthright about it – as Cameron has been. Praise to both of them for that.

  3. Derek Williams 12 Oct 2013, 2:15pm

    It is interesting that Blair “needed persuading”, but significant that he WAS persuaded on rational and compassionate grounds. That is surely more powerful than uncritical partisanship.

  4. vversatile 12 Oct 2013, 2:20pm

    Shame he couldn’t be persuaded that murdering 120,000 innocent civilians by bombing Iraq into the stone age was the wrong thing to do

  5. Iraq….yawn

    The Tony Blair government passed the vast majority of the equality acts and should be congratulated for that.

  6. Doesn’t surprise me in the least… a lot of what he “brought in” was because of international pressure from the Court of Human Rights ie Gender Recognition.

  7. Brett Gibson 12 Oct 2013, 5:02pm

    I think we should give the man some credit. During his government gay people went from an invisible and frowned upon section of society (driven by years of conservative party rule) who couldn’t have sex legally until the age of 21. We couldn’t dream of getting married or adopting kids or even be mentioned in schools and public libraries etc. By the end of his government we had almost identical marriage, full discrimination protection and much wider acceptance from the general public. Who is to say that the driving force of that last one wasn’t caused by him changing these basic human rights issues in the first place?

    RIP Blair my man, you were alright.

  8. Ask Ian McKellan about this- as he has publicly stated that when he visited Blair-and I think it was PRIOR to the 1997 election-before Blair was PM- he had a checklist of gay equality legislation that needed to be implemented and Blair said “Yes-we’ll do that” to virtually all the items on the list.

    1. Philip Breen 12 Oct 2013, 6:30pm

      Well- there are plenty more things to do. What is incredible and utterly discriminatory is that the present government in 2013 has invented new difficulties for gays by including the old gay offences on the list of offences that can never be filtered from DBS checks. The Home Office could instead have worked out a system where old case records were gone through so as to avoid making a disclosure of the old gay offences where the records showed that no minors were involved.

  9. Pity he wasn’t as nervous about jumping into bed with Bush to invade Iraq.

  10. It’s easy to forget- but practically every LGBT equality law passed since decriminalisation was under Blairs govenrment- age of consent, descrimination at work, the human fertilisation bill, which allows lesbians to have kids, the gender recognition act, it goes on. They actually did more for equal LGBT rights than any other government in history. Ever. Which is not to deny the many, many other things they did wrong, of course- but WE benefited greatly.

  11. We must never forget the huge progress made for lgbt rights under Blair. Sadly, the catastrophe of Iraq and the lies which were used to justify it will always overshadow his legacy. The deluded manner in which he still talks about this – arguably the greatest British foreign policy disaster since 1945 – is horrific.

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