In January, we invited PinkNews readers to submit their questions to UKIP leader Nigel Farage. The overwhelming subject mentioned was whether he would abolish same-sex marriage. Replying “no”, Mr Farage pointed towards the possible implementation of something similar to the French system which requires a civil ceremony with the option of a religious one afterwards.
He also talked about cutting foreign aid to countries with questionable human rights records and the “gay marriage caused the floods” fiasco.
We gave readers the chance to ask questions on wider policy issues extending further than the EU and marriage, for example the NHS and education system.
If UKIP won a general election, would it seek to overturn the marriages of the tens of thousands of same-sex couples who will be married by May 2015. (Asked by many readers)
You’ve previously stated how your views regarding the War on Drugs are, for the most part, the opposite of UKIP policy. Do your personal views also differ to party policy when it comes to same-sex marriage? (Steven, Hertfordshire)
My views are based on the destruction of protections for organisations or people who may oppose gay marriage based on religious or deeply personal reasons. The entitlement to independent religious views will end up worth a bean in the light of our legal subservience to the ECHR. Whether or not you may agree with a position, it does not mean someone is not permitted to hold it. Our party policy is the same. In fact we propose an augmentation of the civil partnership awarding it equal status to marriage and enabling it to be available to all. We would rather the legal and religious endorsements of wedlock are separate.
Under what circumstances should it be legal for someone to be sacked due to their sexuality? I refer to Section 3.4 of your Small Business Policy from the UKIP website, where it states “In particular, limits on unfair dismissal and discrimination claims will be re-instated and no unfair dismissals or discrimination claims would be admitted by the Tribunals in respect of employees with less than two years continuous employment.” (Daniel Zajac)
Discrimination for any reason is wrong, both negative discrimination and positive discrimination. Particular aspects of discrimination policy however can make it very hard for businesses, particularly small and micro, to employ people best suited to a certain role. The net result is fewer people are employed than could be, which is a negative outcome from whichever sector of society you come from.
What would a UKIP government do to promote equality for LGBT people living in countries other then Britain? (Steve Preddy)
There are many Global fora where these matters can and absolutely should be raised, such as the UN, the Commonwealth and so on. There could also be questions as to whether we should be looking at our development aid being spent in countries whose views on these matters are so different to our own. Our position on augmenting the rights of those in Civil partnerships is also a key aspect of promoting fairness for all in society, which also has to include fairness to those who may not share certain views and standpoints, whether or not other people like that.
Do you believe it’s acceptable to hide behind the cloak of free speech when defending UKIP politicians with dangerous views, but throw out people who disagree with UKIP’s stance such as the Young Independence leader who was bounced out for supporting equal marriage? (Daniel Pitt, Mountain Ash)
We will defend people’s rights to a wide range of views in UKIP, we always have and we always will. However, if an individual continues to prosecute a case against the requests of the party, under the party’s name and in a way that is detrimental to good discipline, then we have to act. People are not thrown out for their views, but their refusal to be a team player.
The European Court of Human Rights forced the UK armed forces to accept LGBT recruits. Without it, justice would have taken much longer. Does your opposition to the ECHR mean that historic victories like this one are not worth the UK’s continued membership? Would the changes made under ECHR be reversed if you became PM? (Josh Polchar)
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Past performance dose not guarantee future results, as we all know and this applies to the ECHR. Just because the ECHR may have done some important things well does not mean they should necessarily have that jurisdiction. We believe such policy is best made domestically and not in a foreign court. UKIP opposes discrimination, and would not be calling for the repeal of UK law on these matters were we to leave the ECHR. However there is more to the operations of the ECHR than a couple of cases tied up with discrimination in this field.
There are increasing numbers of LGBT people in UKIP, candidates for councillors MEPs etc. Despite this, there are still fewer than other parties – is this because UKIP has a problem with LGBT people? (Alexis, Newcastle)
There may be that perception, but we have absolutely no problem with anybody, whatever group or community they come from, unless they have openly and evidently unpalatable views. People who join us do so because they subscribe to our basic position about freedom from the European Union and a less intrusive state. As you note we now have a series of high profile LGBT members, and have in the past had LGBT members elected to various roles. We hope that this continues and the LGBT community at large comes to understand that we are open to everyone.
What plans do you have for tackling troublemaker members like David Silvester (I know he is now independent), who make comments leading to fiascos like the ‘gay marriage caused floods’… Are you aware how out of touch it makes the party look? (Francis Granger)
Being a broad party there will always be those whose comments will cause embarrassment. However what people need to wake up to is the serious media slant on this. Recently a Lib Dem councillor in Worcester Park, South West London, pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault. If this had been a UKIP councillor, or even a far removed ex member of UKIP, it would have been splashed across the pages of all the national newspapers and covered by all the main broadcasters. Yet, because he is a Lib Dem and therefore it does not fit the media agenda, Stephen Fenwick’s unprovoked attack on a man in a bar where he called him a ‘migrant’ and told him to ‘go back to his own country’ resulting in a year-long conditional discharge and fine of £200, has been confined to only the local press. Compare this to the coverage of Henley Town Councillor David Silvester when he wrote to the local paper expressing some rather wide of the mark, yet personally held religious views attributing the Same Sex Marriage Act to the recent flooding. Although his comments were certainly eccentric, and to many unpalatable, they were his opinions, not the party’s and he had long been making them to his local paper throughout his tenure as a town councillor. It was only when he defected to UKIP from the Conservatives, that these regular letters expressing the deep religious beliefs of an actually well-liked and respected elderly man, suddenly made national newspapers as the latest let’s-mock-UKIP-media fodder. It’s hardly balanced is it?
What is your position on contentious issues like the NHS and education? (Richard Smith)
Both these areas are areas of huge concern and our policies on them are in development and will be revealed in the coming months. I can tell you that we are pro making sure healthcare is of the best standard and remains free at the point of access and of course as a party we are hugely in support of Grammar schools as a way of promoting social mobility and cutting the stranglehold public school educated children are having on university places and top jobs. Our entire general election manifesto is being professionally costed by a well-respected external organisation so we are being ruthlessly vigorous in our approach to policy making. We are a serious political party and believe the public deserve from us a serious and watertight manifesto.
Assuming that you are aware of some issues affecting LGB people, how much do you (and your colleagues) know about the social & political issues affecting Trans and Intersex people? If the answer is “very little”, how do you plan to familiarise your party with major issues affecting these two relatively large minority groups? (Jay Hayes-Light)
As with all things we in UKIP are open to people coming to us and informing us of the issues that affect them, that door is open to those in the Trans and Interesex minorities as it is for everybody else. It is via interaction with representatives from particular communities that political parties are able to create policy designed to protect certain groups within society. We have of course had a Trans MEP who despite leaving us after an embittered falling out, for reasons I care not to express here, was selected on in a clear ‘one member one vote’ ballot and was a very welcome part of the team during her tenure.