The Leader of the House of Lords, Baroness Stowell of Beeston, has said it will be impossible to forget the “wrong” done by the Conservatives through policies such as Section 28.
Tina Stowell was speaking at the PinkNews Debate and responding to a question from the event’s host Evan Davis.
Mr Davis asked Ms Stowell: “To what extent should people voting in this election forget the history of things done in the past, particularly by your party in the 80s, 90s and early 00s on Section 28, because there’s a legacy of great bitterness about Section 28.
“I want to ask you to explain why people should forget that, when they should make a decision on voting in 2015?”
In reply, Tina Stowell said: “I do not think it is possible for people to forget something we [the Conservatives] did that was so wrong.
“I’m glad that David Cameron and others in my party have been so clear that over the years since then, that it was wrong and they regret the fact Section 28 was there and we have been very clear about that.”
“I understand why people still feel so strongly and might want to raise it with the Conservative Party but what I would say that having accepted it was wrong and having apologised for Section 28 we have moved on very, very significantly since then, and I would say, if you look back over the last five years, judge the Conservatives and David Cameron on what we have done in government over the last five years.
“It was a Conservative Prime Minister who led the way on introducing equal marriage and we are doing a lot to support education on homophobic bullying.
“We know we got it wrong in the past but if you judge us on what we are doing right now, we are doing everything we can to make sure the law is equal for everybody and also that we also that we support everybody to fulfil their potential to be who they are, to live their lives in the way that they feel is right for them. I apologise too.”
The audience erupted into applause, before Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper said: “It was a searing, scarring thing, and I fear still that there is too much of the shadow of Section 28 that does still affect what happens in schools, and that’s why I think there has been a resistance to properly tackling sex and relationship education, there’s been a hangover of some of that, properly dealing with homophobic bullying, it’s why I think we should do far more.
“To be fair, Tina did a huge amount to get the equal marriage bill through, tribute to her, and David Cameron was right to do equal marriage, against half the parliamentary Conservative party who were still opposed.
“I think though in the end, I think the Conservative party still has further to travel.”
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Tina Stowell concluded: WWe know we got things wrong in the past but our party is open and inclusive and supports people at every level. That is something that we are all very proud of.”
PinkNews polling released at the debate revealed that 78% of LGBT voters would not support an MP or local candidate who voted against or opposed same-sex marriage.
PinkNews Chief Executive Benjamin Cohen commented: “It is right that the Conservatives recognise the real harm done to LGBT people by policies like Section 28. Equally, LGBT voters need to recognise that even though some backbenchers are still opposed to equal rights for gay people, the party’s leadership has moved on in the right direction.”
Watch the clip below:
Baker and McKenzie