South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has condemned what she has described an “increasingly homophobic UK cabinet” following a number of recent events where UK Cabinet Ministers have either been openly anti-LGBT, condoned people who are anti-LGBT or who have been dismissive or silent on issues of LGBT equality.
Most recently, the UK Government’s Work and Pensions Secretary, in a Sky News interview, reaffirmed her anti-LGBT stance when she refused to welcome the move by the BBC to have a same sex couple feature on one of their biggest shows – Strictly Come Dancing. This was proceeded the very next day (03/09/20) by the Health Secretary – Matt Hancock – who, again in a Sky News interview, condoned the former Australian Prime Minister – Tony Abbott – who has previously referred to same sex marriage and equal rights for LGBT people as “political correctness gone mad”.
The South Scotland MSP has said that these are not the only concerning examples of outright homophobia and anti-inclusion sentiments from the UK Cabinet. She has pointed to other Cabinet members such as:
• Home Secretary Priti Patel who has continually voted against same sex marriage and LGBT inclusion policy, and who has overseen the deportation of people who are fleeing persecution on the basis of their sexual orientation;
• Justice Secretary Robert Buckland who, when the same sex marriage Bill passed in 2010, said that he was “disappointed that the Bill passed”.
• Defence Secretary Ben Wallace – possibly the most homophobic member of the UK Cabinet – who voted against the Equality Act, same sex marriage, and who actively spoke against a Bill which would give lesbian couples better and more equitable access to IVF treatment;
• International Trade Secretary and Minister for Equalities Liz Truss who has refuses to challenge countries around the world on their human rights breaches, and who is happy to form trade agreements with countries such as Malaysia where it is still illegal and punishable to be LGBT;
• Scottish Secretary Alister Jack who refused to back LGBT and pro-choice laws in Northern Ireland;
• Chair of the Conservative Party Amanda Milling who has been vocally against LGBT education in schools;
• Leader of the Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg has consistently voted against LGBT rights and same-sex marriage, and has refused to back same sex inclusive education in schools;
• Tory Chief Whip, Mark Spencer, who abstained from all same-sex marriage votes and said that the Bills and moves for LGBT equality “put churches in a very difficult position.”
Commenting on this, Ms Harper said:
“It is 2020. It is time that the UK Government reflected the diverse, vibrant, open and accepting society which we see across both Scotland and the UK. It is simply wrong that the majority of the people leading the UK Government are opposed to LGBT and same sex equality – and it is in drastic contrast to the Scottish Government and Parliament.
“Since coming to power, the SNP Scottish Government have ensured that equality is at the heart of all policy decisions. Indeed, in Scotland we have passed internationally recognised legislation to further LGBT rights such as implementing the Time for Inclusive Education (TIE) Campaign which enshrines LGBT education into the Scottish Curriculum. This is only right to ensure young people are both aware of LGBT, and so that they know it is okay to question and explore their own sexuality in a safe way.
“I would urge the UK Prime Minister to think very carefully about the make up of his cabinet – the top team of ministers who are running the country – to ensure that it is truly representative of the country it is serving. He may wish to look to Scotland as an example, where we have an inclusive, gender balanced cabinet and team of ministers. LGBT people have been discriminated against historically, and it is only right that the government of the day stand beside and do all they can to ensure equality for all in the country.”
Emma Harper MSP has a strong track record of supporting and promoting LGBT+ policies and has submitted a number of motions to the Scottish Parliament condemning those who oppose LGBT+ rights, such as Anne Widdecombe.