Current Affairs

Hazel Blears appointed Minister for Equality

Tony Grew June 28, 2007
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The former Labour Party chair and unsuccessful candidate for the deputy leadership, Hazel Blears, has been appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

Ms Blears will have responsibility for equality issues in her new job, including gay rights and the new Commission for Equality and Human Rights.

Although Deputy Leader Harriet Harman has been appointed Minister for Women, it is understood that responsibility for equality issues will remain at the Department for Communities and Local Government.

During her campaign for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party she accused the Conservative Party of being “riddled with homophobia.”

A survey revealed that one third of Conservative Party activists would not attend a Civil Partnership ceremony – even if invited by a friend.

Ms Blears said: “This is astonishing. One third of Conservatives would snub a friend’s invitation to a Civil Partnership, and the only possible explanation is homophobia.

“David Cameron has failed to change the Tory Party. Underneath the gloss, is the same old right-wing Tory Party which brought in Section 28.”

The survey was carried out by ConservativeHome, an unofficial right-wing website for Conservative grassroots activists.

The Labour Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, also known as LGBT Labour, teamed up with Stonewall to ask Ms Blears questions on LGBT rights.

Ms Blears explained what she would do to further LGBT rights if she were elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.

She said: “As Deputy Leader I want to be the Minster for Delivery – making sure the manifesto on which you and I campaigned is implemented. An important outstanding issue is the Single Equalities legislation that I would make sure is complete by the following general election.

“I support making “inciting homophobic hate” a criminal offence, I think this will strengthen the package of issues that the Government are seeking to address in the Criminal Justice Bill already and will make a difference to the quality of LGBT people’s lives.

“We need more specialist prosecutors within the criminal justice system to enforce laws which protect LGBT people from homophobic violence and abuse.

She stressed: “We need a much higher conviction rate.”

In an exclusive interview with earlier last month, Ms Blears confessed her worries about an resurgent Conservative Party.

She said: “I am not complacent about David Cameron. I think that for the first time in 20 years you have got a Tory party that is resurgent, it no longer embarrassing to be a Tory and I take them very seriously.”

Ms Blears described herself as “Mrs Pritchard with politics.”

Read the interview with Hazel Blears here

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