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3 July 2009

Gay pride and prejudice

Ben Bradshaw's verbal assault on Tory homophobia, the bloggers' boycott of Iranian state TV and the

By Paul Evans

Pride and Prejudice

“If gays vote Tory they will rue the day very soon,” cautioned Chris Bryant darkly. His comments followed Ben Bradshaw’s attack on the Conservatives, warning that a deep strain of homophobia persists in their ranks. The Culture Secretary bares the scars of a nasty and prejudiced general campaign in Exeter 12 years ago, when his oddball Tory opponent Dr Adrian Rogers accused gay people of leading “deviant lifestyles”.

But does this new wave of criticism ring true – even following Cameron’s apology for section 28? Iain Dalecountered that it did not. In an “open letter” he stressed the progress that gay rights have made from the fringe to the mainstream within the party. And he asked for good grace from Bryant, writing:

“In my speech at my civil partnership ceremony I thanked Tony Blair for making such an event possible. Why do you both find it impossible to articulate any sort of acknowledgement of the fact that the Tories have changed?”

Tory Rascal also believed that “foaming at the mouth” Bradshaw was off-the-mark and outdated.

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“As in all things, the Conservatives stand for the belief that success can be achieved by those who work hard and are determined to overcome their difficulties. As a gay man from a broken home, I found that approach appealing. In the battle for the pink vote, social liberalism and sound money is bound to win,” he blogged.

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A survey of Tory PPCs conducted by Conservative Home would appear to bare this out, indicating that some 62% believe “same sex couples should be given the same benefits as married couples”.

Even non-Tories were unimpressed with Labour’s attack, Garbo on the Wardman Wire explaining that while there may be homophobia in the Conservative party, “Bradshaw’s attack is so unsophisticated and sweeping it is merely an easy cheap shot providing nothing for the electorate other than a confused, desperate sound bite”.

Marking Gay Pride with something other than a slanging match – Stephen Twigg reflected on the development of gay rights as a central plank of Labour’s equality agenda, while The Talking Clock recalls the injustices of section 28. Elsewhere, Lib Dem Linlithgow Journal blogged on gay Muslims and ‘EastEnders’.

What have we learned this week?

Bloggers from the left and right have agreed to join Nick Ferrari in boycotting Iranian-state TV station, Press TV. This is good news, but it does beg the question of those who have previously appeared on the station: have they only now noticed that the station pumps out propaganda in support of racist tyranny?

And as Benjamin Gray commented this week, “Press TV exists to promote lies, and is an arm of a government that sees fit to shut down newspapers that contradict it”.

Around the World

At the Zimbabwean online activist hub, Kubatana, a call went out for domestic confidence in the possibility of economic revival. “The success of the country’s economic turnaround should be measured by how we use the local investment that is lying idle before using foreign assistance.”

Videos of the Week

Remember BBC sitcom ‘Coupling‘? Here the gang confront the apparently shocking notion of a gay Thatcherite. “How dare you say that! You’re gay, you’re our side!” lefty Sally cries.

Quote of the Week

“I wondered if this could be the same Baroness Warsi who was accused of distributing homophobic leaflets when a candidate in the 2005 General Election?”

Joe Oliver wonders if Lady Warsi may not be the ideal candidate to dole out criticism of Ben Bradshaw.