The Rainbow Referendum

38mm-badge-magentaMajority of Scots LGBT community back independence

Hello dears, as I write this, there is only one day to go until the Referendum on Scottish Independence on 18 September 2014.  And it pleases me greatly that Pink News held a poll in which 54% of the Scots LGBT community stated they would be voting Yes.

2163 Scottish readers of Pink News took part in the poll, in which 54% said they would vote Yes, 44% said they would vote No, and 2% were undecided.   When asked which party they would vote for in a Scottish election, 35% said Scottish National Party (SNP), 26% Labour, 10% Green, 9% Liberal Democrats, 7% Conservative, 5% Scottish Socialist Party, and 8% unsure.

The First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament), stated “I am delighted this PinkNews poll has produced a majority for the Yes campaign, as well as the opportunity to build a fairer country that comes with it. It is a fantastic response from Scotland’s LGBT community and is a further demonstration of the rise in support for a Yes vote we have seen across Scotland. An independent Scotland will herald a new era for equalities, enshrining rights and protections in a written constitution.”

Now, I have met Alex Salmond and he is a lovely man who can completely disarm people with his warm smile, and who could charm the birds out of the trees.  However, whilst it is all very well and good to speak of building a fairer country and enshrining rights in a new constitution, he may well want to end the funding of his party by the Stagecoach bus company boss, Brian Souter, a known homophobe who once launched a campaign to retain the notorious anti-gay Section 28.  He may also want to offload the many Holy Willies in his party who are equally homophobic and who would seek to push their own faith in an independent Scotland – that is NOT happening.  Those are just two reasons I am not and cannot be a member of your party, Alex Sweetie.

So, given the above, just how did we reach a situation where a poll shows that the majority would back independence and would vote SNP?  Well, I reckon LGBT people are pretty well switched on and tend to be very intelligent.  A great many will not have fallen for the rhetoric of the media who have continually tried to claim that the referendum is purely an SNP matter, when that is simply not the case.  The official campaign for Scottish independence is Yes Scotland, a non-partisan, grass roots organisation, of which the SNP are but one of many parties and individuals who support it.  Certainly, the SNP are the most vocal proponents of the independence campaign, but given they are the government in power in the Scottish Parliament and their raison d’etre is independence, it would be surprising if they were not.  But to even suggest that the SNP are the ones driving Yes is as untrue as to suggest that the Conservative Party are the driving force behind the official campaign against independence, Better Together.

I would therefore suggest that the LGBT community are well aware of this (probably more so than the cisgender, heterosexual majority) and that is why they don’t believe in throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Then there is the House of Lords question.  I happen to know for a fact that there are a number of LGBT people on both sides of the border who dislike the fact that there are 26 unelected Church of England bishops, the Lords Spiritual, many of whom are homophobic, who have the ability to vote and influence government legislation upon them.  We dislike it even more in Scotland, given that the Church of England is the English established church, and a minority faith in Scotland.  Little wonder then that Scots LGBT people should wish to remove themselves from that poisonous influence.

LGBT support for the SNP is little harder to explain.  The fact that England may have well have got same-sex marriage before Scotland, yet the Scottish government tabled their Bill first, may go some way towards doing so.  Besides which, the English Same Sex Marriage Act was booted through Westminster with indecent haste, with the result of all knee-jerk legislation, it is deeply flawed.  The Marriages and Civil Partnerships (Scotland) Act, however, although it took much longer, is much more comprehensive and embracing of many more people.  The Scottish Government working hand-in-hand with the Equality Network to make it so may very well have wooed a number of LGBT supporters.

And despite their funding from Souter and anti-gay religionists, the SNP government’s support for the LGBT community during the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow may have won a good deal of support as well.  In Glasgow an LGBT rainbow flag flew over the city – after Green Party and SNP Glasgow Councillors forced the ruling Labour administration, who had downright refused to fly the flag, into a u-turn.  The Scottish Government echoed this by flying a rainbow flag over the Scottish Parliament building in Holyrood, Edinburgh.  Then came the First Minister’s speech at the opening of the games, in which he openly condemned the persecution of LGBT people in many Commonwealth countries; a speech for which he was congratulated by none other than LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

All in all, it seems that the 54% are correct in their thinking, that only an independent Scotland can safeguard and further their rights.

And should Better Together shoulder any of the blame for their failure in this poll?  As much as I disagree with them, I would never suggest that Better Together as an organisation is homophobic.  As the old adage goes, however, politics makes strange bedfellows, and some of Better Together’s are not so much strange as odious.

At one point Better Together put a rainbow logo up on their Facebook page.  It had to be taken down less than 24 hours later, due to a barrage of homophobic abuse from their own members and supporters.  This does not in the least surprise me.  Better Together has attracted quite a number of followers from the extreme right.  It is to their credit that they refused the Orange Order membership and refused to have anything to do with the Orange march through Edinburgh opposing independence. They have not however distanced themselves from some other far-right organisations, such as the Britannica Party.  And if Better Together wish to dispute that, perhaps they could explain why Britannica Party Treasurer Max Dunbar, along with his BP cohorts, was canvassing on a street in Glasgow City Centre on 31 August 2014, with official Better Together banners and handing out Better Together literature.  That of course was the day he kicked a pregnant homeless woman in the stomach, before calling her an alcoholic or a drug addict – he has since been arrested for the assualt.  Yes, you never read about that one in the tabloids, did you dears.

As long as Better Together associate themselves with extreme right, often violent, and certainly homophobic individuals and organisations, is there any surprise then that the LGBT community will continue to be repelled by them?

Better Togther have also ran an extremely negative campaign, in which they have been caught out in many lies, used scaremongering, and their supporters tend to be argumentative, unhappy and often aggressive – as a Yes campaigner, I can confirm this, as I’ve been on the receiving end of it many times.  Compare that to the cheerfulness and often party atmosphere of Yes campaigns.  One in Glasgow on Saturday, 13 September, was almost carnival-like.  But again, you won’t read that in the tabloids.  It is little wonder then that Yes attracts people with our positive message, while Better Together’s negativity turns people off, whatever their sexuality and/or gender.

Whatever the rights and wrongs however, with really is just hours to go now, it seems that the LGBT Yes vote is in the bag, and I for one could only be happier if it were a sassy pink Prada bag, full of rainbow sequins.

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