“All are equal but some are more equal than others” is not a direct quote from Minister for Equality but more verbal representation of the actions of our newly appointed Minister for Women and Equality, Theresa May. The Minister’s voting doesn’t read as the best curriculum vitae for the job. The course of Theresa May’s political life does not shout equality, it doesn’t even whisper it. It was expected that Chris Grayling would get the job, but he hasn’t exactly got a great voting record on equality issues relating to gay rights either.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet we can actually view the voting record of our MPs and Ministers to see if they actually do represent our values. Our Minister of a ‘equality’ shows a less than impressive record on equality issues relating to gay rights. Looking her record published on They Work For You, Ms May is classified as being moderately against equality relating to gay rights. Since 2001 she has mostly voted against equality, when she actually turn up to vote! Her rating is 31% for equality on this issue! Compare this to David Cameron’s 61.3% although he was absent from a few votes too, including the one to repeal Section 28. Nonetheless, Mr Cameron comes out as ‘moderately for’ equality. Of course it could be worse. William Hague only ‘chalks up’ 26%. He was either absent or opted against equality on this issue. However, all three did manage to drag themselves in to vote against the hunting ban. Cameron and Hague attended all votes and May only missed one. It doesn’t exactly shout ‘fairness and equality’. Gordon Brown‘s rating at 61.9% is equivalent to David Cameron’s on equality but voted ‘for’ the hunting ban. Chris Grayling scored 39.4%, only slightly better than Theresa May. However, it certainly could have been worse if Communities Secretary (although probably not gay communities), Eric Pickles had landed the equalities post with his 15.7% rating for equality. Even worse, ‘the quiet man’ Iain Duncan Smith, who is remarkably quiet on equality at a mere 7.7% rating. These last two make Theresa May look like Peter Tatchell! Furthermore, these cabinet choices undermine and contradict Cameron’s assertion that the Tory’s are ‘no longer the nasty party’. Suspending MPs for marking anti-gay comments contradicts his choices to put an habitual anti-equality voter in charge of equality.
Nevertheless, Ms May claims she is the right person for the job and that ‘homophobic bullying’ will be one of her priorities, despite having voted against the repeal of Section 28. Given her voting record, it’s hardly surprising that thousands have joined a facebook group and signed a petition calling for her resignation as ‘Minister for Equality’. And does her call for an International Day Against Homophobia sit easily with her heterosexist voting record on equality issues! It’s easy enough to smile for the camera and wave a flag for the day, but better to actually make a difference with the power of your vote. Otherwise, it’s PR tokenism and hypocrisy.
It will be interesting to see how these issues affect the Con-LibDem Coalition over the coming months. Compare Ms May’s record with that of Liberal Vince Cable with a 90.4% rating for equality. Treasure Secretary David Laws gained a similar rating of 90.1%. As for Nick Clegg, with only three opportunities to vote (and one missed), his rating of 64.3%. The appointment of Junior Minister for Equality Lynne Featherstone does in part help balance the equality with an equality rating of 64.3% (based on only three votes). However, she didn’t turn up for the vote on Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations.
Cary Gee makes the point in Tribune Magazine that, “A day before the general election was called, Cameron spoke of ‘the great ignored” – specifically mentioning gays. Ignored? But I would rather be ignored by a Tory government than crapped on”. Arguably, Ms May has made a political career of crapping on equality and gay rights, as have many of her colleagues. It could be argued that we should give Ms May the benefit of the doubt, but so far ‘equality’ has not benefitted from her conviction that some people are not as equal as others!
To protest about the appointment of Theresa May, write to your MP, sign the petition and join the FaceBook group, see links below. And, to see how your MP votes on equality issues visit: TheyWorkForYou.Com.