One would think that a prerequisite for becoming a minister for equality would be believing in equality. But in the United Kingdom, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The previous candidate for minister for equality, Chris Grayling, was accused of homophobia after suggesting that bed and breakfast owners should be able to turn away gay couples. That doesn’t sound to me like someone who should make a living looking out for equality.
And now, with a new minister for equality chosen instead of Grayling, the situation doesn’t seem much better. The new appointee, Theresa May, has a history of voting against gay and transgender rights. In 1998 she voted against equalizing the age of consent. In 2000, she voted against repealing Section 28, legislation banning the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality by schools. In 2001 and 2002, she voted against gay couples jointly adopting children. And in 2008, she voted in favor of a bill requiring a male role model, hence discriminating against lesbian parents. She did vote in favor of civil partnerships in 2004 but didn’t even attend Parliament for votes leading to the Gender Recognition Act.
Theresa defended her poor voting record, saying that one of her priorities will be to tackle homophobic bullying. But is that enough? The minister for equality should not just support tackling bullying against minorities, it should support equality in all aspects of life.
A minister for equality should value diversity and equal rights, including rights for the LGBT population. Theresa May has shown through her voting records that she doesn’t believe in equality. Someone who doesn’t believe in equality is not qualified to be minister for equality.
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