Tag Archives: vote

If I can vote from Uganda then you can walk to your local polling station

DSC_0155

It’s a simple message, if I can vote from Uganda then you can walk down to your local polling station!

Go on, off you go! Vote.

UPDATE:

Thanks to Andrew Sparrow at The Guardian for posting this photo in their live blog.

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Filed under EU politics

Richard Howitt MEP “Whatever Cameron claims, Tory views on LGBT issues are neanderthal and we saw that in yesterday’s vote”

Spot the contentious comment:

The European Parliament “welcomes the reintroduction by the UN General Assembly of sexual orientation as grounds for protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, and welcomes the EU’s efforts to this end

Or

The European Parliament “calls on the Commission to advocate the withdrawal of gender identity from the list of mental and behavioural disorders in the negotiations on the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases and to seek a non-pathologising reclassification

Or

The European Parliament “reiterates its request that the Commission produce a comprehensive roadmap against homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, also addressing human rights violations

Spotted anything contentious?

Apparently the 266 MEPs who voted against this amendment to the EU’s human rights report did. This included many UK Conservative, UKIP and BNP MEPs.

Richard Howitt MEP

As a result, the Labour MEP who tabled the amendment, Richard Howitt, commented, “Whatever Cameron claims, Tory views on LGBT issues are neanderthal and we saw that in yesterday’s vote”.

Daniel Hannan, one of the Tory MEPs who voted against the amendment however had another view. He succinctly responded to Howitt’s comments saying, “sexual orientation is none of the EU’s bloody business”.

I have strong reason to believe that some MEPs, such as the inglorious Roger Helmer, who voted against this amendment could be described as homophobic, or at best, ignorant.

Hannan however who represents a slightly more complex consideration which is worth quickly looking at.

Hannan (in his own words) was “virtually the only Conservative, not just to back the scrapping of Section 28 in 2000, but to oppose its introduction in 1988. I supported the equalisation of the age of consent in 1994. I backed civil unions in 2004, and am quite relaxed about upgrading them to marriages”.

A gay rights campaigner? Not quite.

At best you could describe Hannan as indifferent towards issues of sexuality. Hannan in the past has said, “On balance, I suppose I mildly favour the idea [of gay marriage]”. Not excactly a Peter Tatchell.

So why did Hannan vote against this amendment?

He responded to Howitt commenting, “sexual orientation is none of the EU’s bloody business…[I] can be in favour of gay equality while none the less believing that moral questions ought to be decided by each nation through its own democratic mechanisms and procedures”.

Daniel Hannan MEP

The conclusion here is telling. I don’t believe he voted down this motion because he is a homophobe, but simply because he has an alarming placement of priorities.

Hannan believes these sorts of ‘moral issues’ “ought to be decided by each nation”. I disagree with this statement but that’s fine. The problem comes when he decides to vote against an amendment aimed at (among other things) offering protection to LGBT asylum seekers, a life and death issue for many, because of this belief about doing things at a nation state level.

The EU might not be perfect Mr Hannan but you have an obligation as an MEP to use it the best you can. On this occasion you have put politics above people’s safety. That is not OK.

It is important however to not lose sight of the 265 other MEPs (including Mr Farage, Griffin amongst others) who voted against this motion. I cannot, for all that I have tried, find one good reason why any MEP opposed this amendment.

The full text of the amendment reads:

“108a. Commends the Council, the EEAS, the VP/HR, the Commission and the Member States on the reengagement in favour of LGBT people’s human rights in bilateral relations with third countries, in multilateral forums, and through the EIDHR; welcomes there introduction by the UN General Assembly of sexual orientation as grounds for protection from extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution, and welcomes the EU’s efforts to this end; calls on the Commission to advocate the withdrawal of gender identity from the list of mental and behavioural disorders in the negotiations on the 11th version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and to seek a non-pathologising reclassification; reasserts that the principle of non-discrimination, also embracing grounds of sex and sexual orientation, must not be compromised in the ACP-EU partnership; reiterates its request that the Commission produce a comprehensive road map against homophobia, transphobia and discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity, also addressing human rights violations on these grounds in the world; calls on the Member States to grant asylum to people fleeing persecution in countries where LGBT people are criminalised, taking into consideration applicants’ well founded fears of persecution, and relying on their self-identification as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender;”

Did your MEP vote against the amendment? Maybe you would like to write to him/her and ask why? I would love to hear their response!

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Filed under EU politics, Far-right politics, Human rights, Politics, sexuality

If we don’t allow 16 year olds to vote we should stop sending them off to war

Some 16 year olds can make strange choices

About 1.5 million 16 and 17 year olds are denied the right to vote in the UK. There is growing pressure behind a movement which is pushing to give these people the right to vote. We cannot expect 16 and 17 year olds to play functioning roles in our adult society and yet not have a say in how it is run. If we cannot trust them to vote, we probably should have a little sense of responsibility for them when we let them join our armed forces.

At 16 you can join the armed forces, get married, have children, leave home, pay taxes and generally play a significant role within adult life. Yet, in our government’s bizarre hypocritical policy process they cannot be trusted to vote, watch pornography or buy a copy of grand theft auto!

The common argument against letting 16 or 17 year olds vote is that they might be ill-informed or vote “just for fun” for fringe parties. This is an argument against democracy, not against lowering the age you can vote. Do you trust half the people you’re surrounded by to vote in well thought out ways – no, nor do I. But that’s democracy; people have the choice to vote for what they want.

“Ahhh, but if you lower to 16, why not 14”, I hear the reader sigh. Well the answer to this is consistency. We do not expect 15 year olds to pay taxes, fight our dirty wars etc. I agree you have to draw the line somewhere, and I personally feel 16 is the sensible cut off point.

If you tried to raise the age of consent etc to 18 it would be a nightmare. Do we really believe 16/17 year olds should not be having relationships, getting jobs and paying taxes? Perhaps more controversially, I also think that 16 year olds should be free to join the armed forces should they wish.  I do not swallow the “child soldier” argument put forward by some.

It is time we started treating our young adults with a bit more respect and stopped being so presumptuous about the enlightened nature of adulthood.

If you agree, join up and take action.

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Filed under Politics, War

Young, Gay and Conservative?

Boris at last years Gay Pride March.

A recent survey has found that young gay voters are most likely to vote Conservative in the coming General Election. 45% of those under the age of 23 (first time voters) said that they would vote Conservative.  The Greens came 4th picking up just 19% of the surveyed vote.  Does anyone else find this a little surprising?

This is a like a Muslim saying that they would vote BNP, or (perhaps less sensationalist) a Trade Unionist voting Tory. 

The Conservative Party overwhelmingly voted against lowering the age of consent to bring it in-line with heterosexuals. The Conservative Party overwhelmingly voted against sexuality being included in the Equalities Act.  This is before we even get started on all their tripe about the nuclear family and marriage being the cornerstone of life.

Why then would this be the case.  Specifically why would first time voters, be wooed by the Cameron Conservative Crew (CCC)? Firstly, they are not old enough to remember the joys of living under a Conservative government, which forced section 28 on the UK (The piece of legislation that effectively banned the promotion of homosexuality).  Secondly, they are faced with a constant Conservative PR stream painting the Tories as the Cameron cuddles. The Tories (quite successfully in the short term) have succeeded in painting themselves as the gay friendly vote.  Just look at Boris’ big gay face. This is quite a remarkable achievement considering the reality of this situation.

The Conservatives have become cuddlier.  Cuddly with people that MacMillan Scott (Former Tory, MEP) described as “homophobic and racist”.  The extreme right that they sit with in the European Parliament oppose all concepts of “gay rights”.  As one of the ECR groups political advisors said to me recently, working on LGBT rights was “out of the question”. This is without the harder to prove grumblings within their own party.  At best, I could find no mention of LGBT issues on the Conservative Party web site.  A cynic might say that’s because they have nothing positive to say.

Lets not just pick on the Tories though. My own Labour MP David Drew has consistently voted against lowering the age of consent to 16 and against the rights of same sex partners to adopt.  Entrenched homophobia (whether it be from a “Christian Democrat” position (Drew) or a Tory one) is still rife within politics.  Even our beacons of change the Lib Dems make no mention of LGBT issues in their pocket policy guide.

The concepts of ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’ are central to me. I have a progressive minded MP who I believe is trying to work towards equality.  David Drew’s understanding of equality however, appears to be one that excludes members of the LGBT community.  For me, this is unacceptable.  Equally, the Conservatives not only ignore many LGBT issues, but also actively work to further ignorant bigots by forming political alliances with them.  For me this is unacceptable. 

The only party that I can find that will stand up and support these basic concepts of fairness and equality that are so central to me are The Green Party. The Greens would:

1) Open up civil marriages and civil partnerships, without discrimination, to both same-sex and opposite sex couples.

(2) Require all police forces to have LGBT Liaison Officers with paid time allocated within their work schedules to tackle homophobic and transphobic hate crime.

(3) End the blanket, lifetime ban on gay and bisexual blood donors.

(4) Amend the Equality Bill/Act to provide explicit protection against harassment to LGBT people.

(5) Refuse visas and work permits to “murder music” singers and others who incite homophobic and transphobic violence.

(6) Ensure safe haven and refugee status for LGBT people fleeing persecution in violently homophobic and transphobic countries.

 Only the Greens hold an all-encompassing understanding of equality.  For an equal and fair society, you need to look after all your citizens.  I do not believe that any of the three major political parties are in the position to be able to stand up for the rights of the LGBT community here or abroad! That’s why I would urge anyone concerned with LGBT issues to vote Green!

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Filed under Human rights, Politics, sexuality