I declare an interest before anyone outs me…which is more than most of those in the Conservative Party managed to do in the 1980’s and 1990’s when their support of gay rights might actually have made a real difference to how how gay men affected by AIDS lived and died.
But those silent on those issues then, like Mr Hague, feel obliged now to share with us their sense of how important it is for there to be equal access to marriage when at the time when it really mattered their actions and inaction denied equal hospital access to our dying partners, friends and lovers.
Personally I feel a bit insulted that the Conservative Party thinks civil rights are to be so cheaply bought by what is largely after all an exercise in party-political window dressing rather than motivated by any conviction. Indeed how can they possibly be acting from any conviction when their concept of civil equity has included taking from the poorest and giving to the richest. Hypocrisy is a word not to be used lightly but as these exemplars of civil and human rights pontificate upon a subject they know little of – there is no word more appropriate to which to give decent employment.
For if it were from conviction the first thing these people might do is apologise for their earlier and repeated demeaning of gay men and gay women and not only in Clause 28 but repeatedly in public speeches where we were used as a dog-whistle issue to feed old social prejudices.
That said I would guess this vote in Parliament will not make much difference to anything – another example of the EU speech-syndrome where Media attention makes something more salient than it is in reality. If there is a long-term effect it is more likely to be in local Conservative party memberships which may effect the longer term vitality of local their campaigning. Small loss to me but small beer compared to the wrongs they did when our human rights were really on the line.
I’ll take the civil rights bestowed by grace but don’t expect me to be grateful to those who so long actively participated in denying them to me and to many others. I watched lifetime partners put out of their homes when someone died of AIDS. I saw men left inconsolable in death robbed of the decency of any recognition of their loss. there were those within the then cabinet who were actively gay and who were silent. The Conservative Party was silent then and a little respectful silence from them would be better all around for now.
Mr Cameron is fond of apologizing for that and this and he often accused Mr Brown of never wanting to say sorry. When they say not just sorry for Clause 28 and the things they said in public for thirty years but explain why they felt the need to say such terrible lies in the first place, then they get the right to talk about equal marriage. Until then….I’ll say no more…and nor should they….