Michael Child recently posed the question on his Thanetonline blog about whether Thanet District Council was homophobic. Then David Davis MP commented that he considered the Conservative - Liberal Democrat coalition to be the “Brokeback Coalition”, referencing the iconic gay movie Brokeback Mountain. Alan Johnson MP commented on this that it was all a degree of trust, and that for some it was the “bareback coalition”.
Here in Kent the Conservative Party has a long tradition of homophobia. It took a hard line on Section 28 that made it the backwoodsmen’s backwoods. Enough of these outdoor allusions!
Things have got better. This has been due to the legislation and attitude of 13 years of Labour government. Some Thanet Conservative councillors such as Sandy Ezekiel, Chris Wells and Margaret Sheldrick have a strong record on gay rights. Others though remain uncomfortable with the idea of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGBT) equality. You’ll not find them racing to photo opportunities for Margate Pride.
This matters. Thanet District Council is unrepresentative of the community it serves. As far as I can find out, no out LGBT councillor has ever served Thanet. There are subtle and informal barriers to gaining selection and election. I am saddened to hear that a LGBT individual who wishes to become a Conservative councillor is encountering difficulties.
This individual has good press contacts and can attract media coverage. They have a record of serving their community and voluntary activity. They would be superior to several serving Conservative councillors. But they face a problem. A notable Conservative individual is uncomfortable of any idea of a civic partnership. Perhaps they misheard and are confusing civic with civil! A subtle campaign is being waged to make it harder for this candidate to become a councillor.
So I hope those Conservatives with a sincere commitment to equality will intervene. This individual deserves their support so they are judged on their political views and competence, not their sex life. I hope that the first out LGBT councillor is elected to Thanet District Council next May.
I will not post any comments that seek to identify any individual’s sexuality.