LGBT people urged to vote
Stonewall and other gay rights groups have urged the LGBT community to vote in today’s elections.
In Scotland, the 129-member Parliament is being elected. Stonewall Scotland has created a special section on their website where voters can check what the party’s manifestos have to say about LGBT issues.
Josef Church, communications manager for Stonewall Scotland, told PinkNews.co.uk: “We have two priorities that we want to see the next government tackle: hate crime and homophobic bullying in schools.
“Last year the Scottish Executive reneged on its commitment to introduce hate crime legislation to help protect us from homophobic attacks and still far too many young LGBT people in Scotland face the daily torment of homophobic bullying in schools.”
The Scottish Christian Party has vowed to unseat Green MSP Patrick Harvie in Glasgow. Mr Harvie is one of two LGBT members of the last Parliament.
George Hargreaves, founder of the SCP, is standing against him, and says that Mr Harvie’s open bisexuality makes him sinful.
Mr Hargreaves has funded the SCP – slogan Proclaiming Christ’s Lordship – with royalties he continues to receive for co-writing and producing the 1980s anthem So Macho, sung by gay icon Sinitta.
There are also elections on all of Scotland’s local authorities.
All 60 members of the Welsh Assembly will be elected today.
Matthew Batten, Stonewall Cymru’s policy and public affairs officer, told PinkNews.co.uk:
“It’s not too late for lesbian and gay people in Wales to quiz candidates on their commitment to gay equality.
“It is important that lesbian and gay people go to the polls today and vote for a candidate who can really make a difference.”
Campaign materials are available to download from Stonewall Cymru’s Election 2007 webpage
Seats are being contested in 312 councils across England.
Peter Tatchell of OutRage! says that the homophobic BNP might gain more representation.
Regarded as no more than a extreme minority group a decade ago, the BNP took their first three seats on Burnley council in 2002.
They went on to play on working class resentments about immigration and lack of social housing to win 52 seats on 13 councils in 2006.
In Barking and Dagenham, east London, the party is the official opposition with 12 councillors. They are fielding 665 candidates in the 2007 elections.
“Recent election results indicate the BNP could make an electoral breakthrough,” said Brett Lock of OutRage!
“Under the proportional representation voting system for the Scottish and Welsh elections minor parties like the BNP can win seats.
“There is a possibility that the BNP may, for the first time, secure representation in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.”
OutRage! says gay voters should be aware that a high turnout will reduce the BNP’s share of the vote and lessen its chances of winning seats.
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Nick Griffin, the party leader, is standing for election to the Welsh Assembly.
He is credited with turning the fortunes of the BNP round by “softening” the party’s image and creating a more media-friendly party organisation.
The BNP has in recent times emphasised the issues that concern voters and played down its extreme racist and homophobia.
They recently tried to align themselves with Christians who object to new laws protecting gay people from discrimination.
The BNP fought previous general elections on a pledge to outlaw homosexuality and has described AIDS as “nature taking revenge” on gay men.
Many local councils have delayed their counts until Friday, so it many not be until Friday afternoon that we have a clear picture of the results.