THE GENERAL ELECTION
WHO WINS? YOU DECIDE. BUT TO HELP YOU MAKE YOUR DECISION, WE PUT YOUR QUESTIONS TO THE LEADERS OF THE CONSERVATIVES, LABOUR, LIB DEMS AND GREENS. WE EVEN SPOKE TO SOME GAY MPS. NO ONE FROM UKIP THOUGH – THEY CAN’T SIT WITH US...
DAVID CAMERON CONSERVATIVE
Who’s your gay icon? There are many people I admire from different walks of life – politicians such as Lord Smith and Margot James, journalists like Matthew Parris, sports stars and campaigners like Martina Navratilova or Tom Daley.
If I had to pick jut one, it’d be Clare Balding, who I think is outstanding for her passion and knowledge of the subjects she broadcasts on – and she’s also spoken out brilliantly on equality issues.
If I was choosing someone from history it’d be Alan Turing, who clearly was an exceptional man with a brilliant mind. He deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. His pardon from the Queen was a fitting tribute to an exceptional man. How should a gay voter feel if their local Conservative candidate didn’t vote in favour of same-sex marriage? The key point is that it’s now in place – and no one is proposing to repeal it.
I’m tremendously proud that we now have same-sex marriage in this country, and I’m particularly proud that it was a Conservative-led government that introduced it. In fact, I understand I’m the only Conservative Prime Minister in the world who’s introduced equal marriage.
While there are people who weren’t convinced by the arguments, I’m heartened by the number of people who – both during and after the debate – have said that they changed their minds and are now strong advocates for equal marriage. If elected, what would your party do to help improve sexual health education in schools for LGBT youths – particularly relating to HIV awareness? Relationship and sexual health education is a matter of great concern to parents and as society changes, as children have greater access to information on the internet, it’s an area to be kept under review. We’ve already added sexually transmitted disease to the Key Stage 4 science curriculum, meaning that students should learn about it as part of their GCSE science. We’ve also been clear that relationship education in schools should be inclusive of LGBT issues and the government has funded the PSHE association to produce guidance on consent, which has a specific focus on same-sex relationships. Do you agree with the National AIDS Trust and other charities that PrEP should be made available on the NHS to gay men who need it as soon as possible? I think it’s fantastic that over the course of the last 30 years, AIDS has gone from being a very serious and fatal disease to one that can be treated – and is now on the cusp of being one that can be prevented. Too many people have lost loved ones and seen friends and families suffer from AIDS, so it’s right that we look very carefully at PrEP. However decisions on individual drug availability are made by the independent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and not politicians – so it’d be inappropriate of me to prejudge their decision. When did gay rights become an
integral part of your political agenda? Respect, dignity and fairness have always been at the heart of my politics, so advancing equality was a natural part of what I wanted to achieve. Which LGBT person would you say has influenced you the most? It would be unfair to single one out, but I’ve been inspired by all the candidates, many now MPs, in my own party who fought elections as openly gay candidates. What’s your party’s most important moment in the history of gay rights? Bringing equal marriage into law – a huge milestone in the history of gay rights in the UK. According to teacher’s union NASUWT, one in four LGBT teachers feel they have to hide their sexuality. How can we change that and create a more accepting environment? It’s not acceptable for any teacher to feel they have to hide their sexuality, so the National College for Teaching and Leadership is working with Stonewall to address some of the barriers faced by LGBT teachers and – in particular – their progression to leadership positions. We need schools to be places of respect for both teachers and pupils, and we’re making progress – half the number of secondary school teachers now say that pupils are ‘often’ or ‘very often’ the victim of homophobic bullying compared to 2009, but there’s more to do. So we’re investing £2 million in schools to help them tackle homophobic bullying and will keep this momentum up in the next Parliament. At a time when blood supplies are dwindling and the gay community feels like their blood is deemed to be less worthy, do you foresee the rules changing when it comes to gay and bisexual men donating blood? I’m pleased that we’ve made some progress on this issue, but I’m aware that it’s still a contentious one. Ultimately this is a decision for clinicians, not politicians. The Albert Kennedy Trust says there are up to 5,000 LGBT youths living on the streets – and that this group is at the highest risk of abuse, violence and sexual exploitation. What would your party do to combat this? There’s nothing more important than giving young people security and love when they’re growing up. I’m concerned about the specific issue of homelessness among young LGBT people and that’s why we’ve begun funding the Albert Kennedy Trust to tackle it. We must also understand why young people become homeless; one reason some end up on the streets is because they leave school early due to bullying, so we’re working to eradicate homophobic bullying in schools. Which politician do you think has been the most damaging to gay rights – past or present? This is a complex issue that can’t be answered with one name. There are leaders and politicians in other countries who have sought to stigmatise the LGBT community which is incredibly damaging. And right now we’re seeing truly horrific sights in Syria with ISIS throwing suspected gay men off the top of towers to their death; so right now their leadership is the most damaging and tackling the threat they present is crucial.
Left Cameron with Barack Obama in Washington, January 2015.
Above With Nick Clegg at the Gay Pride garden party, June 2010.