Coalition government publishes gay policies – but no action on gay marriage or blood ban

Jessica Geen June 16, 2010
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Home secretary and equality minister Theresa May announced an “ambitious” programme of the coalition government’s LGBT policies today.

The document sets out many of the election promises made by the Tories and Liberal Democrats, although it does not mention full marriage equality, which deputy prime minister Nick Clegg said he supported.

It also does not mention lifting the blood donation ban on gay and bisexual men, something both party leaders said they believed was unfair. Mr Cameron said before the election he agreed with changing the policy but had to wait for an independent investigation to conclude.

Instead, the plans cover a range of areas and include specific policies for trans people. They include:

  • allowing gay people to have religious civil partnerships
  • lobbying other countries to repeal homophobic laws and recognise UK civil partnerships
  • removing historical convictions for consensual gay sex from criminal records
  • tackling homophobic bullying
  • better recording of hate crimes
  • ending deportation of LGBT asylum seekers fleeing homophobic countries

The document also says the government has commissioned research in a number of areas, including work on the size and nature of the trans population, discrimination in the workplace and how LGBT people can take a full role in civil society.

It also promises to publish the first government action plan on trans equality next year and work towards providing safe refuge support people for trans people in need of shelter.

Removing historical convictions for historical gay sex was the centerpiece of the Conservatives’ gay-friendly election promises. According to the document, the government hopes to have pushed through this change by the end of next year.

The document said a more detailed plan would be published later this year to set out how changes will be made.

Ms May said: “I’m proud of the fact that Britain is a world leader for LGB and T equality but we must not be complacent. In this country and around the world, too many LGB and T people still face discrimination based on outdated prejudices, and that has to stop.

“As a government we have made clear our determination to take concerted action to tear down barriers to equal opportunities and to build a fairer society. It’s not fair that a man can be branded a criminal because 30 years ago he had consensual sex with another man.

“It’s not fair that hate crimes against transgender people go unreported because too few people understand how to handle such cases. And it’s not fair that too many children still suffer at the hands of homophobic bullies because schools lack the support they need to tackle it.

“We’re working to make Britain a place where everyone is treated fairly and everyone has an equal chance in life, whatever their sexual orientation or gender identity. This ambitious programme of work is the first step on that journey.”

Ms May, whose voting record on gay rights was criticised last month, is to join a reception for the gay community at 10 Downing Street tonight.

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay charity Stonewall, told “Clearly, it is hugely welcome that the new government has been prepared to make number of commitments that many speculated it would never enter into.

“We will be proving as much support as possible to make sure the new commitments lead to hard, practical outcomes.”

He added: “We are awaiting the results of the review [on blood donation] on that is taking place and will be published in January.”

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