For a country that fought so bitterly for its independence from Britain, it sure seems we have a weird tendency to get wrapped up in the monarchy and politics. American news outlets were abuzz with the drama after the U.K. elections.
The Conservative Party (informally known as the Tories) emerged from the May 6 election with the most votes, and have since formed a coalition with the Liberal Democrats in order to lead the new government. Unlike the U.S., the U.K. has three major parties, two of which are left-of-center: the Labour Party and the Lib Dems.
What’s been lacking in American coverage of the U.K. elections is what they might mean for LGBT Britons. Here’s the scoop:
In contrast to our national political scene, U.K. Conservative Party leader David Cameron struggles to give answers that are pro-gay enough. Over here, the Republicans barely talk about gay rights at all. If they do, it’s usually within the context that gay rights don’t exist in the first place. The Democrats largely ignore the LGBT press. Though our friends across the pond are certainly leagues ahead of us on issues of acceptance and equality, the U.K. is obviously still far from perfect, as exemplified by a Tory candidate whose campaign ads were attacked by homophobes.
The U.K. LGB organization Stonewall rated all the MP’s (Members of Parliament) in the election based on a series of votes pertaining to the LGB community. Cameron himself received a 36 percent score, while Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg received an 86 percent score. The average score of new Conservative cabinet appointees as of May 12 was 30 percent. The average score for Lib Dem appointees was 80.2 percent.
On May 13, gay Tory Nick Herbert was appointed policing minister. Herbert was rated with a score of 57 person, which is lower than the least LGB-friendly new Lib Dem cabinet member, who received 71 percent.
The first female Muslim to ever hold a cabinet position has been appointed by Cameron to be the Conservative Party’s new chairman. On the face of it, this could be viewed as another step toward diversity, but the appointee, Sayeeda Warsi, has a past of using homophobic language. Though she says she regrets it, Warsi has argued, among other things, that policies introduced by the Labour Party promote “alternative sexual lifestyles” to young children.
Conservative Party member Theresa May has been appointed to be the new home secretary, one of the top four positions in the government. Teresa May also has a questionable past regarding LGBT issues, but she did vote in favor of civil partnerships in 2004. She received a score of 14 percent from the Stonewall organization and was absent in four votes regarding the Gender Recognition Act, which passed and allows transgender people to legally change their gender.