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Comment- Peter Tatchell: Cameron has gay policies at last, but not enough

Peter Tatchell April 10, 2010
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Gay rights campaigner and Green Party activist Peter Tatchell welcomes David Cameron’s new gay rights policies but argues that he needs more to convince the LGBT community to vote for him.

It is good that David Cameron has, at last, offered two specific gay rights policies as announced in his article for

He says a Conservative government will adopt a zero tolerance approach to homophobic bullying in schools and will treat as spent any convictions for consenting gay behaviour that has since become lawful.

Under Cameron’s proposals, while the convictions will not be quashed, they would no longer need to be disclosed on criminal record checks when gay men apply for certain jobs and volunteer work.

Although only a halfway house, this is a move in the right direction. The failure of the Home Secretary Alan Johnson to match this commitment makes the Tories more progressive on this issue than Labour.

It is a big disappointment that David Cameron is only offering two gay rights policies. His zero tolerance of homophobic bullying is too vague. It is contradicted by the Tory leadership’s decision last week to block government plans to ensure that pupils receive sex and relationship education to counter homophobia.

David Cameron’s gay rights credentials are still weak. He doesn’t support ending the ban on same-sex civil marriage and he failed to mention scrapping the lifetime ban on gay blood donors.

Cameron evaded questions on the Conservative’s alliance with homophobic parties in the European Parliament and on securing EU-wide recognition for British civil partnerships.

He gave no explicit assurances on ending the postcode lottery in NHS gender reassignment surgery for trans people. Despite his commitment to allow same-sex couples to adopt children, he did not reply directly to the question on whether he would amend the law to allow some adoption agencies to refuse to place children with lesbian and gay couples.

The Conservative Party’s annual conference has never voted for gay equality and there are no concrete gay rights policies in any Tory policy document.

This suggests that David Cameron’s commitment to gay rights is not embraced by the whole Tory party and is not deemed worthy of a mention in official party publicity.

The big test will be whether there are specific new gay rights policies in the Conservative Party election manifesto.

Peter Tatchell is a human rights campaigner and a leading member of the Green Party

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