David Blunkett: Equal marriage legislation was a ‘dog’s dinner’ but it is what people wanted
Labour’s former Home Secretary David Blunkett has spoken to PinkNews about his stance on same-sex marriage legislation, from calling it a “complete dog’s dinner” in 2013 to voting for it.
In January 2013 a PinkNews reader wrote a letter to the former Home Secretary, asking if he would support the government’s proposals to allow same-sex couples to marry. He replied, saying the legislation looked like, “a complete dog’s dinner”.
At BNP Paribas’ opening event for its third annual Diversity and Inclusion Week, PinkNews sat down with the keynote speaker, David Blunkett to talk about if his stance on those remarks had at all changed. He said:
It did [look like a complete dog’s dinner]. Because they were all over the place but they sorted it out. It was a dog’s dinner because of the relationship with the Church of England and how they were dealing with that. Double-binds they were getting themselves into.
I voted for the legislation in the end because I thought that they made sense of it, and if that’s what people wanted, that was fine with me. Many of my gay and lesbian friends were quite happy with civil partnership, but they said to me ‘if people want marriage then so be it’.
Over the weekend, the Department for Education (DfE) controversially tweeted that it’s “nonsense” to suggest that schools “must teach gay rights”.
As former Education Secretary under Tony Blair, Mr Blunkett remarked: “I am quite taken aback because it is contradictory to what they’ve been saying publicly.”
He believes gay rights need to be taught as “part of broader sexual relationship, personal, social and health education, alongside citizenship which I’m very keen on.” As Education Secretary, Mr Blunkett introduced the Citizenship Curriculum.
He spoke about the need to “break down the barriers one by one” in order to combat what he called, “subliminal prejudice on sexuality”, and a way to do this would be through opening up the issues to young people who are “much less subject to subliminal prejudice than older people.” He added: “the earlier you tackle these [prejudices], the better.”
David Blunkett opened BNP Paribas’ Diversity and Inclusion event at the company’s security services headquarters, with a speech on the need to bring about “fairness and equality for a decent society” and the need for “recognition and acceptance” of difference.
Mr Blunkett rounded off his speech with the message that “Diversity Week should be 52 weeks a year, not just one.”