Friday 3 July 2009

Pride and prejudice

LabourList is celebrating Gay Pride, and will be guest edited through the weekend by my colleague Richard Lane, wearing his LGBT Labour exec hat. (And perhaps there is still time for Gordon Brown to take Tom Hampson's advice and join Sarah on Saturday).

I think it would be a good thing for fundamental issues of gay rights and gay equality to be entrenched, and not in dispute in mainstream party politics. We may well be getting there.

So David Cameron's apology for the Tory party over section 28 is a welcome symbolic move. To a large extent, he is asking his party to take the quintessentially conservative approach of adapting to change once it has happened, even where they opposed it at the time. This is much less difficult than advocating change before there is a consensus for it, but it still matters.

Civil partnerships have not seen the sky falling in - and a conservative as well as liberal argument can be made for them.

But different things can be true at once. There has been a great deal of change in just the last few years, but this remains work in progress across British society. And this rather weak and confused commentary published on ConservativeHome opposing David Cameron's apology and arguing that section 28 was quintessentially liberal and in no way homophobic perhaps exemplifies Ben Bradshaw's warning that not all of the Conservative Party are comfortable with a liberal approach to gay rights.

Those Conservatives promoting might well themselves acknowledge that cultural change can not be finished overnight, and while their political opponents should be vigilant, we should welcome and support positive change too.

A broad consensus might enable the UK to play a strong role in supporting international campaigns for gay rights as human rights, as promoted by InterPride and Human Rights Watch.

David Miliband writes about this in Pink News, which I am sure would be supported across the political spectrum.

It is interesting to see the BBC's report of how the Indian supreme court's decision yesterday has been warmly welcomed by much of that country's media, though there is not yet any deep social consensus on the issue.

But as the Human Rights Watch report last month showed, there are many other places where solidarity and support for campaigners in promoting change in their own countries is needed - from central Europe to Africa and Latin America, and from Iraq to California.

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