Two senior Liberal Democrat peers have criticised Stonewall for allegedly snubbing their party’s involvement in the campaign for equal marriage, with Lord Rennard saying “the law was passed at Westminster in spite of Stonewall’s initial and wrong headed opposition to it.”
In September 2010 at the Lib Dem conference Stonewall argued against the Lib Dem policy of introducing same-sex marriage and extending civil partnerships to heterosexuals with Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill warning the party’s policy could cost taxpayers £5bn. Britain’s largest gay rights charity formally confirmed its intentions to campaign for equal marriage the following month.
Lord Rennard, the former chief executive of the Liberal Democrats, and Baroness Barker said Thursday night’s Stonewall Awards failed to recognise the party’s contribution to this year’s legalisation of same-sex marriage for England and Wales – because unlike Labour and the Conservatives – no Lib Dem politician received a Stonewall award.
The Lib Dem peers criticised the fact that the speeches, made by hosts Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerkill and comedian Susan Calman, did not praise the Liberal Democrats’ contribution to equal marriage – or their policy.
Conservative peer and Communities Minister Baroness Stowell of Beeston won Stonewall Politician of the Year. Yesterday she was also named Peer of the Year at the Spectator Awards and last month won joint Politician of the Year at the PinkNews Awards along with Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper.
Lord Alli was awarded joint Stonewall Hero of the Year along with the Russian LGBT Network.
Lord Rennard said to PinkNews.co.uk: “It was great that Stonewall was able to celebrate the equal marriage legislation at their annual reception. The law was passed at Westminster in spite of Stonewall’s initial and wrong headed opposition to it. I am glad that credit was given by Stonewall to Labour and Conservative politicians who resisted homophobia.
“It is a shame however that Stonewall could not also give any credit in their many awards to a Liberal Democrat. The equal marriage legislation only happened because the Lib Dems used the power of being in coalition to bring it about. Others committed to ending discrimination will recognise Lynne Featherstone’s role as a Lib Dem Minister and Liz Barker’s fantastic speech from the Lib Dem benches in the House of Lords.”
A Stonewall spokesman said to PinkNews.co.uk “This year Baroness Barker was nominated for Politician of the Year in recognition of her hard work to secure equal marriage. Lynne Featherstone MP was nominated in the same category last year for her continued support for equality. However, Stonewall Award winners are chosen by an independent judging panel. This year they picked Baroness Stowell as Politician of the Year from the selection of cross-party nominees. We’re sorry that Baroness Barker was disappointed.”
Although Baroness Barker did not win either of the two awards she was nominated for at the PinkNews Awards, all three main parties were recognised with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Conservative MP Mike Freer, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Conservative peer Baroness Stowell receiving awards.