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Comment: Why I’m backing Norman Lamb to lead the Lib Dems, by Adrian Trett

Adrian Trett June 1, 2015
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Liberal Democrat Adrian Trett, who made history by revealing he is HIV positive while running for Parliament, writes for PinkNews to explain why he is backing Norman Lamb for leader.

Today I decided who to support for the Leadership of the Liberal Democrats.

I joined the Liberal Democrats in 2006 on three fundamental principles that for me are cornerstones of a truly liberal party – equality for everyone in front of the law and no exceptions;  an internationalist dimension where being in Europe is crucial to our future prosperity as a country; and thirdly, the party being accepting of all  people for whoever they are and their own flaws.

For me this last point was crucial, it personally allowed me to be completely open, honest and genuine with my electorate when I stood as an openly gay man with HIV as a Lib Dem candidate during the last General Election.

My belief is that the upcoming Leadership contest whoever wins has to embody these principles of freedom, of equality, human rights and compassion which is as the core of our Liberal Democrat party.

I read Norman Lamb’s article on Lib Dem voice calling for a change in the law to allow assisted dying.  To me this is another core Liberal value and it confirmed for me that I want to see Norman Lamb as the new Leader for the Lib  Dems.

I believe that Norman over the years has embodied Liberal values not only by his words but by much more by his demonstrative actions at the correct time and place.

As the former Chair of the LGBT+ group who led on Equal Marriage, and one of the current Vice President’s you won’t be surprised for me to recognize Norman’s exemplary record as a Member of Parliament on LGBT+rights.

During the course of the last three Parliaments – Norman has voted the right way in a whole series of votes – all in the affirmative. Please see the complete list at the end of the article but I want to highlight two of the most crucial votes.

He supported the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in 2007, making it unlawful to discriminate based on sexuality when providing goods or services and as shown recently in the Ashfords Bakery Case. It is clear that this law is of paramount importance in ensuring LGBT+ people are treated equally.

And the most recent Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill 2013 – Norman supported the Bill with the crucial Programme Motion vote which set the wheel’s in motion for the Bill to go forward. He supported all the initial votes. He was absent for the final vote because of long-standing ministerial commitments in America with regards to Mental Health initiatives.  Norman made it publicly clear at the time that he would have voted for the bill if he had been present and made every effort to communicate that to the Party and LGBT+ activists.

Furthermore, during the last parliament, Norman carried the responsibility of being a minister in the coalition government. Though he had to vote for policies which he I’m sure wouldn’t have wanted too, he didn’t shirk his duty.  Norman accepted the principle of collective responsibility as a member of the government. As a result he was unable to vote against disagreeable policies such as tuition fees and bedroom tax, much as he might have wanted to.

Norman Lamb’s dynamism is felt most strongly throughout the Health Service. He grasped that mental health issues had been left behind for decades.  His capacity to understand the complexities of mental health services led charities to praise him as the best minister for mental health ever. It was through  his dedication and hard work that mental health services were highlighted on the front page of the Lib Dem manifesto for the General Election. No other party would have given such coverage to these issues, and no other politician would have given them such a priority. To me that is another excellent reason to vote for Norman.

But more importantly – Norman embodies the principle of equality in his campaigning. From the need to treat mental and physical health issues with similar urgency, through to ensuring that religious convictions do not cloud judgments, Norman champions everyone equally. In practice this means making sure there is proper sex and relationship education in all schools, with no exceptions on the grounds of faith; stopping public health authorities allowing gay cure sanitisation or allowing the practice of harmful anti-gay therapies. It means not having religious doctrine override human rights, thus allowing people the right to die with dignity.

Norman has also had to deal with this, in my view unfair, intrusion into the private life of his own family. When this happened he dealt with the media in a characteristic and truly professional way – by being honest and explaining the difficulties in a way, I believe, no other public figure in government could have done.

I’m sure Norman will lead the Liberal Democrats on LGBT+ rights during the next parliament,  he will champion conversion therapy being banned altogether; the gay blood ban being  reversed; Trans rights on gender neutral passports and ensuring the spousal veto is corrected; championing proper sex and relationship teachings in all schools with no exemptions on faith or religious grounds, and tackling LGBT+ phobia in sport. Finally I believe he will ensure that mental health, HIV prevention,  drug addiction, the effects of  homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying and other related issues are all linked into a lifestyle discussion.

Our party constitution sums up Norman’s embodiment of our values, to live a free, fair and open society where nobody is enslaved by poverty, ignorance or most importantly conformity. I believe he is the best, most consistent and true Liberal leader we could have.

I hope my appraisal of Norman Lamb’s actions give credence to what he has done, continued to do and will do in the future. In particular I believe he will ensure that LGBT+ rights will be at the heart of the Liberal Democrats party as he leads it back to winning ways and into government again.

Adjunct to detail – Norman Lamb voted in favour of the following:
Relationships (Civil Registration) Bill 2001,
Adoption and Children Bill 2001/2- specifically supporting the amendment allowing same-sex couples to adopt.
Local Government Bill 2003 (re LGA 1988 section 28) — voted to repeal the 1986 and 1988 clauses prohibiting local authorities from promoting homosexuality
Civil Partnerships Bill 2004,
Gender Recognition Bill (2004) with amendments
Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill 2008 – he voted against amendments requiring both a father and a mother when considering the welfare of a child who may be born as a result of fertility treatment
The Equality Act 2010 – specifically supported regulations extending discrimination rules to seafarers, and regulations requiring public bodies to publish their objectives in relation to promoting equality.
In 2014 – as minister secured agreement from key NHS organizations and professional bodies on a Memorandum of Understanding that would in effect end the use of gay conversion therapy on the NHS.

Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett is the former Chair of the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, and the former Lib Dem candidate for Vauxhall.

As with all comment, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.

More: Equality, Gay, LGBT, Lib Dem, Liberal Democrats, Norman Lamb, Rights

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