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Which MPs voted against LGBT-inclusive relationship education?

Nick Duffy March 28, 2019
(L-R) Bob Blackman, John Spellar, Chris Chope, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Martin Vickers Philip Hollobone, Dr Julian Lewis, and Sammy Wilson

(L-R) Bob Blackman, John Spellar, Chris Chope, Philip Davies, Sir Edward Leigh, Martin Vickers Philip Hollobone, Dr Julian Lewis, and Sammy Wilson (Official Parliament photos/Chris McAndrew)

There are 21 MPs who cast votes against new LGBT-inclusive guidance on compulsory relationship and sex education in English schools.

On Wednesday (March 27), MPs voted by a margin of 538 to 21 in favour of adopting the government’s new LGBT-inclusive guidance for compulsory relationships and sex education.

20 of the 21 MPs who voted against the proposal are men.

12 are members of the Conservative Party, seven are from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), one is a Labour MP, and one is an independent MP who was expelled from Labour due to a criminal conviction.

Tories who voted against relationship and sex education have anti-LGBT+ record

Ten of the Tory MPs who voted against the proposal are long-time opponents of LGBT+ rights reforms: Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch), Philip Davies (Shipley), Bob Blackman (Harrow East), Matthew Offord (Hendon), Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough), Charlie Elphicke (Dover), James Gray (North Wiltshire), Philip Hollobone (Kettering), Julian Lewis (New Forest East) and Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes).

All 10 voted against the introduction of same-sex marriage in 2013, while some, including Chope and Leigh, have longer records opposing the repeal of Section 28, civil partnerships and the equalisation of the age of consent.

They were joined by Ranil Jayawardena (North East Hampshire) and Marcus Fysh (Yeovil), who were both first elected in 2015 and have not voted on previous LGBT+ rights reforms.

The MPs who voted against inclusive sex and relationship education, broken down by party
The MPs who voted against inclusive sex and relationship education, broken down by party.

One of the main Tory opponents, Philip Davies, has vocally opposed LGBT-inclusive education, claiming in 2017 it “introduces very young children to concepts, such as homosexuality and transgenderism, at an age where these cannot be critically assessed.”

Davies also used the floor of the House of Commons to attack a secondary school in 2009, after it held an educational LGBT History Month production of ‘Romeo and Julian’.

He claimed: “It is better for pupils to learn about Romeo and Juliet and Shakespeare, rather than politically correct Romeo and Julian.”

Labour MP John Spellar and ex-Labour MP Fiona Onasanya slammed for votes

One Labour MP, John Spellar (Warley), voted against the regulations despite the Labour Party’s 2017 manifesto pledging: “We will make age-appropriate sex and relationship education a compulsory part of the curriculum so young people can learn about respectful relationships (…)  And we will ensure that the new guidance for relationships and sex education is LGBT inclusive.”

Spellar’s constituency is in the West Midlands, near to Birmingham, where schools have seen repeated protests against LGBT+ inclusive education in recent weeks.

His office did not respond to a request for comment.

Spellar outlined his view in Parliament last month, telling another MP: “As our constituents rightly point out, parents have the primary responsibility for bringing up their children and they may have different views.”

The MP was slammed by his party’s own LGBT+ group, LGBT Labour, who tweeted: “There is no justification for voting to turn back the clock on LGBT rights and not support inclusive relationship and sex education.

“As the only Labour MP to vote against, we are appalled by your vote. LGBT people needed your solidarity but you choose the side of bigots.”

Spellar was joined by independent MP Fiona Onasanya, who was expelled from the Labour Party in January after serving a prison sentence for perverting the course of justice.

Former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya
Former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya.

In a statement to PinkNews about her vote, Onasanya said: “If schools are to determine the content of sex education at primary school (recommended), I do feel that parents must be provided with detail of how schools plan/propose to tailor these programmes.

“I am not a parent, but understand that age and readiness do not necessarily correlate. How will schools determine which pupils are at the right age and stage for the programmes?”

DUP MPs voted against LGBT-inclusive relationship education in England

Though the law only applies in England, it was also opposed by seven MPs from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party.

They were Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry), Nigel Dodds (Belfast North), Sir Jeffrey Donaldson (Lagan Valley), Paul Girvan (South Antrim), Gavin Robinson (Belfast East), Jim Shannon (Strangford) and Sammy Wilson (East Antrim).

Speaking in Parliament, Jim Shannon expressed “real concern over the rights of parents” to withdraw children from lessons, adding: “The government’s proposed changes will put parents and teachers in an impossible situation; in some cases, I suspect that it will put them on a collision course.”

More: Education, Law, LGBT, LGBT-inclusive education, parliament, sex and relationship education

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