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Theresa May: Tories have been wrong on gay rights in the past

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By Sarah Marsh

Theresa May has said the Conservative party has been “wrong” on gay rights in the past, although she said she was proud of the role it had played in recent years. 

The prime minister made the statement in an article for the website PinkNews to mark 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales.

She said: “I am proud of the role my party has played in recent years in advocating a Britain which seeks to end discrimination on the grounds of sexuality or gender identity, but I acknowledge where we have been wrong on these issues in the past.”

May added: “There will justifiably be scepticism about the positions taken and votes cast down through the years by the Conservative party, and by me, compared to where we are now.”

In 1998 May voted against a bill to reduce the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16, and in 2002 she voted against a measure allowing gay couples to adopt. 

In her political career May has been absent for a series of votes affecting LGBT rights, although she backed civil partnerships in 2004. In 2014 she voted to make same-sex marriage available to armed forces personnel outside the UK.

Other former prime ministers, including David Cameron and Tony Blair, also contributed to the PinkNews article. Cameron wrote: “We’re still on that road and, of course, more needs to be done, particularly on the vital task of working internationally to change laws and attitudes.”

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, wrote that “much more needs to be done to tackle homophobia in our society. Homophobic hate crime must be treated as seriously as hate crime based on race and faith, by being made an aggravated offence.”

First published at The Guardian

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