Yesterday, Ed Miliband released a statement to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of the repeal of Section 28. It is a sight we’re used to seeing; Labour leaders speaking out strongly against LGBT discrimination. Speaking out, Ed reminded us of how far we have come in the fight for LGBT equality and that it was the Labour Party that led the legislative change that afforded us the rights we have today. David Cameron made no such statement yesterday.
This anniversary is one of many which remind us of Tory opposition to gay equality. The Tories not only neglected to fight our inequality in the Thatcher and Major governments, but they proactively worked to hide us from view with the introduction of Section 28.
Just 10 years ago yesterday, a majority of Tory MPs voted by 71 to 23(1) in favour of an amendment that would have prevented the removal of Section 28 legislation, had it received a majority in the House. The then Tory Party leader, now Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith(2), supported the amendment. Other prominent government figures including William Hague and Eric Pickles also supported the amendment.
Sadly, 10 years on not much has changed. Without Labour MPs supporting Equal Marriage the Coalition’s bill would never have passed. Tory MPs remain the same old Tories that voted to keep Section 28. At the final reading of the Equal Marriage bill, Tory MPs voted against it by 129 votes to 118(3). It was Labour votes that delivered Equal Marriage in Britain.
David Cameron has failed to modernise the Tory Party. The truth is they are the same old Tories that introduced Section 28 and opposed its repeal ten years ago.
As the Labour Party we must ensure that LGBT people in Britain today do not make the mistake of believing their future is safe with the Tories.
Labour is the party of equality. Labour is the only party LGBT people can count on to deliver.