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Feature: The top 15 stories that changed LGBT life in the UK in 2012

PinkNews.co.uk Staff Writer December 25, 2012

As 2012 draws to a close, PinkNews.co.uk takes a look back at the most important UK stories of the last twelve months.

While we cannot claim a thoroughly scientific approach to the rankings, the stories are ordered through a combination of how widely read they were, how much debate they provoked and our own editorial judgement as to the effect they will have on LGBT life in the UK.

In reverse order, our top fifteen UK stories of 2012 were:-

15 – Ken Livingstone: Tories ‘riddled’ with gays 
Ken Livingstone
The London 2012 Mayoral Election had its fair share of LGBT political drama. Labour’s defeated candidate, Ken Livingstone, faced criticism when he said the Conservative Party was “riddled” with gay people in an interview to the New Statesman.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson disappointed many when he failed to release his LGBT manifesto.

14 – UKIP candidate Dr Julia Gasper: Gay people should thank heterosexuals

2013 saw the UK Independence Party field various local government and parliamentary candidates – many with deeply homophobic views. Dr Julia Gasper in Oxfordshire seemed to take the crown for the most outlandish comments – when she decided to turn her scorn directly on PinkNews.co.uk readers and urged for them to be “sectioned”.   

Winston McKenzie, UKIP’s failed Croydon North By-election candidate also created a storm in November when he said that gay couples should not be allowed to adopt children.

13–Jewish state funded school teaches students about reparative therapy 

JFS (Jews Free School), a state funded Orthodox Jewish school in North London taught sixth form students about an organisation called JONAH in a lesson about homosexuality.

The school claimed that it was not aware that JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing (formerly Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality offered young people ‘reparative therapy’ to ‘cure’ them of homosexuality.

In response, PinkNews founder and former JFS student Benjamin Cohen launched an It Gets Better campaign about the issue. Then a correspondent on Channel 4 News, he filmed an emotional video in the Channel 4 Newsroom that was distributed on social media by the broadcaster.

A follow-up collection of videos about homosexuality and Judaism was produced by Keshet UK, the national forum for LGBT Jews.

Continue reading to find out what was placed in 1-12

12– The Tory MP who just couldn’t stop making homophobic clangers

In December, Welsh Conservative MP David Davies seemed to be on a mission to say the most controversial remarks about equal marriage possible. On the same day that 19 senior Conservatives launched a campaign group aiming to legalise marriage equality, the MP said most parents would prefer their children “not to be gay”.

He then dismissed accusations that he was a homophobe by reminding people of his participation in an amateur boxing match against a gay fighter in 2008.

Then, days later, Mr Davies made another set of embarrassing comments to the Guardian about sex education in schools.

11 – The Coalition for Marriage launches its campaign against equal marriage

March 2012 saw the government in England and Wales opened a consultation on how not if to introduce same-sex marriage.

Shortly before the publication, a group called the Coalition for Marriage was launched by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey among others.

10 – Footballer arrested for sending anti-gay Tom Daley tweet

During the London 2012 Olympics, a semi-professional Welsh footballer was arrested for sending a homophobic tweet to diver Tom Daley and his colleague and Peter Waterfield. The message on Daniel Thomas’s Twitter denigrated the diving pair, neither of whom is known to be gay, after they failed to win a medal in the synchronised men’s 10m. Daley went on to win bronze in the 10m platform, and no charges were brought.

9 – The Archbishop of York John Senatmu calls David Cameron a ‘dictator’ over his equal marriage support

At the start of the year, in a forthright interview to the Daily Telegraph, the second most senior cleric in the Church of England, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, compared David Cameron to a dictator over his support for equal marriage.

Although a staunch opponent of the principle, his soon to be ex-boss, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, tried at times to temper his remarks concerning equal marriage throughout 2013.

8– Boris Johnson bans anti-gay bus adverts

In May, just days ahead of his re-election as London Mayor, Boris Johnson banned anti-gay Christian groups from displaying homophobic adverts on the capital’s buses.

Gay right’s charity Stonewall’s “Some people are gay. Get over it!” adverts were placed on around 1,000 buses in London during March.

However, the decision was met with criticism by religious anti-gay protesters, who tried unsuccessfully to place adverts which read: “Not gay! Post-gay, ex-gay and proud. Get over it!” on a smaller number of buses.

Continue reading to find out what was placed in 1-7

7– Coalition for Equal Marriage launches

Following the launch of the anti-gay Coalition for Marriage, Conor Marron and James Lattimore, a gay couple with no previous experience of LGBT campaigning decided to launch their own counter campaign, the Coalition for Equal Marriage.

With the help of Mike Buonaiuto, who later went on to co-found the Out4Marriage campaign, the group released a viral video that has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

6 – Nick Clegg issues apology to church leaders over ‘bigot’ row

In September, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg wrote a formal letter of apology to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of Westminster over claims he was prepared to describe the religious opponents of equal marriage as ‘bigots’ in a speech at an LGBT reception that took place in central London.

Directly after the speech, Mr Clegg attempted to play down the row in an exclusive interview with PinkNews.co.uk

However, Peter Bone, the anti-equal marriage Conservative MP called on Mr Clegg to apologise or resign over the row.
5 –BNP leader Nick Griffin harasses gay couple on Twitter 

In October, a Cambridgeshire gay couple were on the receiving end of abuse from BNP leader Nick Griffin, after they won a discrimination case against the Christian owner of a B&B. The North-West England MEP called for a protest outside the home of John Morgan and Michael Black on Twitter.

4 –Out4Marriage campaign for equal marriage launches

PinkNews founder Benjamin Cohen and the viral video maker Mike Buonaiuto launched an ‘It Gets Better’ style campaign for marriage equality in the UK.

The project went live with a video by Mr Cohen’s grandparents explaining why they support equal marriage. That video was shared by Stephen Fry who subsequently recorded his own video for the campaign.

Other videos were recorded by Hugh Grant, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Home Secretary Theresa MaySir Richard Branson, the Virgin founder, Labour leader Ed Miliband; The Saturdays girl groupJack Straw, the former Foreign Secretary; David Walliams, the  Britain’s Got Talent judge; Caroline Lucas, the leader of the Green party; Lynne Featherstone, the Lib Dem Equalities Minister; Peter Tatchell, the  gay rights campaigner; Lord (Chris) Smith), the Advertising Standards Authority chairman and Rabbi Ariel Friedlander among many others.

Continue reading to find out what was placed in 1-3

3 –PinkNews exposes that children as young as 11 were being taught to sign anti-gay rights petition in state funded schools>

Shortly after the Coalition for Marriage launched its campaign against equal marriage, a PinkNews exclusive investigation revealed that the children as young as 11 were being taught to sign the petition in state funded schools.

Following PinkNews’s exclusive investigation, the Education Secretary Michael Gove was said to be concerned that the Catholic Education Service that unintentionally blurred the distinction between discussing issues that are a matter of faith and promoting partisan political views.”

Also following PinkNews’s investigation, the Welsh government ruled that any Catholic schools in the principality that taught children about the campaign against same-sex marriage must teach them the “converse view” and promote pro-equality campaigns with equal weight at anti-gay campaigns.

2 – Cardinal Keith O’Brien describes same-sex marriage as ‘grotesque’

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the UK’s most senior Catholic, was on a mission to become the most repeatedly outspoken religious equal marriage critic in 2013. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph in March, he warned that same-sex marriage was a “grotesque subversion of a universally accepted human right”. He suggested that it would lead to three-way marriages and was akin to legalising slavery.

1 – Government confirms gay couples will be able to marry in 2013

Equal marriage dominated the headlines throughout 2012; so it is fitting that several key moments feature in this year’s list. However, the event of biggest political significance occurred on 11 December, when Culture Secretary and Minister for Equalities Maria Miller (pictured) formally announced in the Commons that gay couples in England and Wales would be allowed to marry after legislation is passed in 2013 – it was days after David Cameron had confirmed that he was in favour of allowing religious organisations the freedom to provide same-sex marriages.

Although the move was warmly welcomed in most parts of the LGBT community, the decision to specifically ban the Church of England and the Church in Wales from marrying gay couples as part of the government’s ‘quadruple legal lock’ angered both liberal Anglicans and equality campaigners.  

Outside of the state Anglican churches, religious organisations who want to marry gay couples, such as the Unitarians and Quakers will be able to so do, providing their governing bodies agree.

As well as ending the ban on same-sex marriage and allowing same-sex couples to marry in churches and synagogues, the proposed new law will end the practise of forcing married couples to convert their relationship into a civil partnership if one of the couple legally changes their gender.

The Scottish Government also published its proposed legislation to introduce marriage equality in 2013 during the same week.

This article was jointly authored by the PinkNews editorial team. We wish you all the best over the festive season!

More: Benjamin Cohen, Boris Johnson, C4EM, c4m, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Catholic Church, Coalition for Equal Marriage, coalition for marriage, David Cameron, Ed Miliband, gay marriage, Julia Gasper, Keshet UK, Maria Miller, marriage, marriage equality, Nick Clegg, O4M, Out4Marriage, Out4Marriage, Richard Branson, same sex marriage, Theresa May, tom daley

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