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Scottish Labour Thinks Cishet Animals Are More Equal than Others

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Elaine Smith MSP

Whilst bigotry exists in every country, Scotland in recent years, while by no means immune from hate, has been a shining example of LGBTQ tolerance and acceptance.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) administration in the devolved Scottish Parliament introduced the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Act in 2014, the most comprehensive overhaul ever of marriage legislation in Scotland, which ensured equal marriage for people of all sexual orientations and genders.   When the Bill was going through parliament, it had cross-party support, and when it went to the public consultation period (mandatory as the people are sovereign in Scotland), the response from the Scottish people was overwhelmingly in favour.

Likewise, the SNP administration is currently pressing ahead with transgender legislation reform to bring it into line with international best practice.

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, is openly lesbian. The co-convenor of the Scottish Green Party, Patrick Harvie, is openly gay. Scottish Labour’s former leader, Kezia Dugdale, is openly gay.   SNP leader and First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, although cishet herself, won Politician of the Year in the 2016 Scottish LGBTI Awards.

So, amidst all of this pride Scotland can rightfully take in LGBTQ issues, who did new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard appoint as his Spokeswoman for the Eradication of Poverty and Inequality?   Someone who takes a firm stance against LGBTQ equality, while putting her god and religious faith above the sovereign wishes of the Scottish people, that’s who.

Enter Elaine Smith, list Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Central Scotland, who was one of the most vocal opponents to equal marriage in the Scottish Parliament, likening it to polygamy and claiming it would lead to unforeseen circumstances.

Speaking in 2013, Ms Smith stated “Whilst the government has said that it has no intention of allowing polygamous marriages as part of this legislation which changes the essential nature of marriage, it has not explained in any detail and with research analysis its reasons for taking that position.   Further, if the government is sincere about its support for ‘equal love’ then it appears to have a contradiction on its hands.”

In her opposition to the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill, Ms Smith also wrote “It is not, in my view, the Government’s job to interfere in the operation of churches, which is what this proposal seems to do.

“The potential consequences, of course, would not stop with the ceremony.

“The consequences of the legislation will be far reaching and would not just affect religious celebrants but could impact on people right across the country, particularly those with personal religious views. Teachers, local council workers and parents could all fall into categories potentially affected.”

Read that again carefully, dears; “It is not, in my view, the Government’s job to interfere in the operation of churches, which is what this proposal seems to do.”

And…

“The consequences of the legislation will be far reaching and would not just affect religious celebrants”

Ms Smith, who also wrote, “if Christianity is no longer the framework for society consideration must then be given to what is replacing it”, seems to think that the Christian faith somehow has the monopoly on marriage.   If that is the case, will she be the first to tell those in Scotland married under other faiths, and those atheists married under no religious faith, that they are not married in her eyes, or those of her faith?  Perhaps Ms Smith would do well to reflect that in the Bible there is no definition of marriage as one man / one woman (there is in fact no definition of marriage in the Bible), and that the most common form of marriage found in the Bible is, ermm, polygamy.

And the part on celebrants is not lost on me either. The Marriage and Civil Partnership Act made provisions for the first time for non-religious celebrants being able to carry out marriages, without first seeking permission to do so.

This is a woman fit to speak on equality? Who looks to her religious faith first, and says “My bat, my ball”? I don’t think so somehow.

When confronted with Ms Smith’s past record, new Scottish Labour leader appeared to have been caught off-guard and waffled his way through an interview on BBC Good Morning Scotland (aired 9 January 2018). Leonard responded, “Well, Elaine’s position on that (equal marriage) is not one I support.” Pressed on the matter, the Scottish Labour leader responded, “it’s not in keeping… well… look, we’ve got a rising level of child poverty in this country, more people in work are living in poverty. We’ve got a huge rise in inequality, the top 1% richest people in Scotland earn more than the bottom 50% put together.”

Asked again on Elaine Smith’s stance on equal marriage, Mr Leonard waffled on, “There are huge challenges that we face, and I think Elaine Smith is well equipped to lead the Labour Party’s campaigns against that growing inequality and against that rise in poverty. That’s why I appointed her to that position.”

Utterly pathetic, and a clear indication that the leader of the Labour Party (North British Branch) should have done some serious homework before making the most unsuitable appointment possible.

But it does not stop there. Ms Smith is also opposed to LGBT-inclusive sex education in Scotland’s schools, and thinks that teachers should have the right to opt out of teaching it.

She stated, “On the specific issue of teachers, there are particular concerns. The Government’s proposal indicates that they would not expect a local authority to take ‘immediate’ disciplinary action against a teacher who expresses concerns about the use of certain educational materials.

“There is also the issue of parents and what control they have over the information their child receives. I have already been approached by parents with children at nondenominational schools who are concerned about sex education in primary schools.

“They are aware that they can seek to withdraw their child but are concerned that in doing so their child will then suffer from bullying and be set apart from their peers.

The government has indicated that it does not consider it appropriate to say that issues relating to same sex marriage, same sex relationships and homosexuality should never be raised in primary schools and neither can parents opt their children out of such discussions.”

Well, that latter part is utter rubbish. Parents fully have the right to withdraw their children from sex education if they so wish. And where is this bullying Ms Smith speaks of? Can she give any data or figures, which back up the claim that children opted out of sex education, are bullied by their peers?

Or could it be that given the widescale acceptance and respect LGBTQ Scots appear to be enjoying, the only people who are attempting any bullying are ignorant homophobic and transphobic bigots, who attempt to hide behind their faith?   Does that sound in any way familiar, Ms Smith?

For someone who is supposedly an ‘equality’ spokesperson, Ms Smith’s commitment to equality is derisory. Here is one more snippet from her opposition to equal marriage:

“I do not regard same sex marriage as a simple matter of equality particularly as we already have civil partnerships for same sex couples. Just because something is not identical does not make it unequal.”

Different – but not unequal? Now, where have we heard that before in a supposedly ‘leftist’ context?

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New Equalities Minister stood against Same Sex Marriage

Caroline Dinenage MP

Caroline Dinenage MP

(But she promises to support it now)

With a new Conservative government being formed at Westminster, the Prime Minister, David Cameron has appointed a new Equalities Minister for England, and his choice is Caroline Dinenage – who not only voted against Same Sex Marriage but took a strong stance against it in public.

In 2013 Ms Dinenage replied to a letter from a reader of Pink News in which she stated that marriage is defined in Canon Law as “one man, one woman”, that this definition is “distinctive”, that the state had no right to change that definition, nor was there any need for it in her opinion.

Ms Dinenage stated in her letter,  “As you may know, as the established Church, its own Canon Law is part of the law of the land and one of its canons states that marriage is in its nature a union of “one man and one woman”.

She continued, “I therefore believe that the institution of marriage is distinctive and the State has no right to redefine its meaning – these proposals were not included in any of the three main manifestoes nor did it feature in the Coalition’s Programme for Government. As I have mentioned, under current law same-sex couples can have a civil partnership but not a civil marriage and I believe that there is no legitimate reason to change this.”

Ms Dinenage subsequently also voted against same-sex marriage in the last parliament.

Caroline Dinenage is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gosport.  In 2013 the MP, who is also a mother of two children, left her husband and entered a relationship with fellow Conservative MP, Mark Lancaster.  Lancaster walked out on his wife of 12 years, Katherine, in 2007 and moved in with Journalist Amanda Evans.  18 months later he left Evans, just four months after the birth of their baby daughter, and entered a relationship with election agent Kathryn Buckie, but their relationship soured.  After Dinenage and Lancaster entered into relationship in 2013, the pair married in February 2014.

Strangely enough, for all her moral outrage against same-sex marriage, Caroline Dinenage has never once made any mention on what the Bible has to say about a wife disobeying her husband, divorce, adultery, and sex outwith marriage, all four of which she has participated in.

With her new appointment however, Ms Dinenage claims to have had a change of heart.  She told Pink News that she is now “fully committed” to LGBT equality and that she was “looking forward” to her new post.

Caroline Dinenage stated “I know that some of your readers will be concerned about my voting record on same-sex marriage however, I want to be clear – I am fully committed to advancing the cause of LGBT equality and support the law on same-sex marriage.

“I’m proud that the UK has just been named the most progressive country in Europe for LGB & T rights for the fifth year running, but as the new minister for equalities I know there’s no room for complacency.

“That is why I’m particularly looking forward to taking forward this government’s work on tackling homophobic bullying in schools and implementing our manifesto commitment to introducing a new law that will build on the posthumous pardon for Alan Turing by erasing the historic convictions of those who would be completely innocent of any crime today.

“I’ll be meeting with LGBT organisations such as Stonewall as soon as possible to discuss this Government’s priorities for this parliament.”

I for one shall believe it when I see it – and I’m not holding my breath. Right away I am concerned at the lack of “Q” and “I” in that statement.  At least the Scottish Parliament has extended their definition to “LGBTI”.

It also may interest Ms Dinenage to learn that while boasting “the UK has just been named the most progressive country in Europe for LGB & T rights for the fifth year running”, it was actually Scotland, which she will have no remit over (thank goodness) which led the league table, with 92%, while the rest of the UK achieved 86%.  One can only wonder if England would have achieved that figure had Ms Dinenage’s appointment been known when IGLA (International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) drew up this year’s “Rainbow Index”?  I sincerely doubt it.

Meanwhile in a poll in Pink News, over 90% of readers have voted that Caroline Dinenage should never have been appointed Equalities Minister.

During the UK General Election, Conservative Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said of Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon, “You wouldn’t get Herod to run a baby farm, would you?”  Where England’s LGBTQI community are concerned, it seems to me that Boris’s old school chum and Conservative Party leader, David Cameron has just done precisely that.