The Liberal Democrats who launched their main election manifesto today have also published a specific manifesto for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered) voters. But the policy document does not contain a manifesto commitment to introduce full gay marriages that Nick Clegg told PinkNews.co.uk readers he supported. The Liberal Democrat’s LGBT group say that as the party has not yet passed a motion supporting gay marriage, it can not be included in the manifesto.
The party say they will get tough on hate crime, end deportations of LGBT people to countries where they will face deportation, press for the recognition of civil partnerships around the world, broaden the legal definitions of transgendered people and aim to return more LGBT MPs to Parliament.
Party leader Nick Clegg is his forward to the document wrote: “Growing up, I was very lucky to be raised by parents and taught by teachers who treated everybody equally.
“Whether someone was gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or straight wasn’t an issue. It wasn’t until my teens that I realised for some people it was an issue. And today, for many people, it still is.
“Despite the repeal of Section 28, the equalisation on the age of consent and same sex adoption, prejudice is still capable of rearing its ugly head in playgrounds, workplaces and even in the home. Labour has failed to stem prejudice and discrimination against LGBT communities.
“Liberal Democrats believe it is an individual’s right to live their lives as they see fit, without discrimination, with personal privacy, with equal rights in front of the law. No one should be shackled by conformity, ignorance or intolerance. This applies to a person’s sexuality and gender identity in the same way it does to their race, religion or beliefs.”
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Answering questions from PinkNews.co.uk readers, Nick Clegg said that the party supported full gay marriage. “Yes, I support gay marriage,” he wrote for PinkNews.co.uk. “Love is the same, straight or gay, so the civil institution should be the same, too. All couples should be able to make that commitment to one another.” But this commitment is not in the manifesto although it does say that the party will fight for civil partnerships to be recognised internationally.
The manifesto says it’s “appalling that today just 6% of schools have specific policies to tackle homophobic bullying.” The party said it would force all schools, including religious schools to introduce a homophobic bullying policy. On Saturday, Conservative leader David Cameron writing for PinkNews.co.uk said the Conservatives would introduce a zero tolerance policy to tackle homophobic bullying. But unlike the Liberal Democrats, the policy wasn’t included in the main manifesto. The Labour manifesto did have a commitment to tackle homophobic bullying.
The Liberal Democrats say it’s inhumane for the Government to deport gay people back to the countries where they will be persecuted because of their sexuality. The policy document says it is unacceptable for the Home Office to tell deportees that they will be safe in their home country if they act in a “discreet” manner. David Cameron told PinkNews.co.uk that while the courts should apply the 1951 Refugee Convention to LGBT people in order for people with a “well-founded” fear of prosecution. The Labour manifesto did not make any commitments on this issue.
The Liberal Democrats say more needs to be done to tackle violence against LGBT people. They say 3,000 more police officers on the street will improve the situation.
The document claims that “Labour continues to display complete ignorance of the complexities of the spectrum of gender identity. During the passage of the Equality Bill, it showed relentless and ill-informed determination to keep as one of the protected characteristics ‘gender reassignment’ rather than ‘gender identity’.”The manifesto promises that transgendered people will be able to define their gender based on how they feel rather than if they have been successful in having a full sex change operation.
Commenting on the decision not to include a pledge on gay marriage in the manifesto, Dave Page of the Liberal Democrats LGBT group DELGA said: “Nick Clegg has always been an outspoken advocate of equal marriage. However, he does not dictate Liberal Democrat policy. The Lib Dems are a democratic party and policy is decided by the membership on the conference floor.
“Due to time pressure on policy debates brought about by the economic crisis, and due to a decision by DELGA, the Lib Dems’ internal LGBT organisation, that passing strong policy for LGBT asylum seekers facing torture and death was a higher priority, equal marriage has not yet been debated at a Federal Conference. When it does, we are confident it will pass as it has done at Scottish Liberal Democrat conference.
“Nick has never pretended that his opinions represent Liberal Democrat policy, and no promise has been broken. Equal marriage is not in the manifesto, but that is a matter of due democratic process, not a lack of intent. The Lib Dems’ unparalleled record of LGBT equality makes this clear.”
The Conservatives promised to erase the criminal records of those who were convicted of gay sex acts that are now legal. But the policy wasn’t included in the main manifesto. The Liberal Democrat’s main manifesto does say it will reform the process of criminal record checking but only in relation to the voluntary sector.