The success of UKIP could be bad news for LGBT rights
November 18, 2012 1 Comment
By Lucy Browett
This week’s by-elections have revealed a dangerous, growing popularity for UKIP. Well, almost certainly dangerous if you are part of the LGBT community. As Labour retained Manchester Central and Cardiff South & Penarth, they won Corby by a swing of almost 13%. If this wasn’t satisfying enough for Labour, they also revelled in the fact that the Conservatives were extremely close to coming fourth in the Manchester Central results, beating UKIP by a mere 5 votes. In Corby especially, the rise of UKIP is evident as they received 14.3% of votes. While many may view UKIP as a desirable party to lead Britain out of economic difficulties, for the lives of LGBT citizens, UKIP influence on the House of Commons and the general public would have a detrimental effect.
In a statement released this week on UKIP’s website, the party reinforces its opposition to equal marriage rights, describing it as “not a burning issue” and that “it is not a matter which animates the daily discourse of the nation”. UKIP has previously described proposed equal marriage legislation as “picking a fight” with religious organisations.
To view the issue of equal marriage as unimportant and as if it is not a subject of campaigns (such as Out4Marriage), discussions and protests all around the country is ludicrous. It begs the question of whether UKIP are aware of what the real “burning issues” are, after so boldly stating that equal marriage is not one of them. On a daily basis, individuals’ minds may not be plagued with the thought that it is not currently legal for them to marry someone of the same sex. However, UKIP fail to take into account the long-term same-sex couples who would like to, but cannot, enter into exactly the same legal agreement as other adults in monogamous relationships can due to the current law. To me, and many others, that is enough of a “burning issue”.
Aside from matters of marriage, UKIP MEPs have expressed personal beliefs that equate to downright bigotry. Earlier this year, Roger Helmer MEP made comments including a tweet questioning “Why is it OK for a surgeon to perform a sex-change operation, but not OK for a psychiatrist to try to ‘turn’ a consenting homosexual?” He also asked in a blog post, “If two men have a right to marry, how can we deny the same right to two siblings?” These comments were followed in April this year by UKIP Oxford city council hopeful Dr Julia Gasper, who said that gay people should “stop complaining and start thanking straight people”, in relation to another comment in which she stated that “homosexuals are completely dependant on heterosexuals to create them”.
UKIP and its members cannot still be holding these opinions and prejudices if they realistically want to surpass the Liberal Democrats as “the third party”, as they often inform their members they are well on the way to doing. They need to consider policies to reduce LGBT discrimination in the UK instead of pandering to the ex-Conservative members who were not happy with socially liberal David Cameron. It is the 21st century and countries all around the world are passing anti-discriminatory legislation which gives rights to LGBT people and activists are opposing legislation which doesn’t. UKIP must consider the minority it has hastily overlooked.