Thursday, 31 January 2013

Local Conservatives Seek Homophobia Mantle for Conservative Party

Despite the fact that the Conservative lead coalition government is currently aiming to equalize Marriage by enabling Gay and Lesbian couples to marry, two senior Conservatives in Surrey Heath, the parliamentary constituency in which I live, are opposing the move.

Geoffrey Vero, the President of the Surrey Heath Conservative Association, and Lavinia Sealy, Conservative Councillor and Chairman of Surrey County Council have taken their battle to the national media in an attempt to garner support for their prejudiced views.

In December Vero used his honorary position as President to gain an interview with Jeremy Paxman and others on BBC Newsnight in which he attempted to give the impression that there is widespread support for his position against equal marriage.

And then, just a few days ago, Lavinia Sealy gave an interview to local citizen journalist Paul Deach in which she again claimed widespread support for her unpleasant views.

Today she appeared in her chains of office in The Daily Mail alongside an accompanying article. In reality it seems that much of this ‘opposition’ has been incited by these two themselves using their positions to further their own personal views.

This was clearly evidenced by Vero’s actions on the 17th January when he asked the local Conservative agent to send an email to the entire local membership and database of supporters urging them that ‘if they share a similar view to mine’ they should sign a petition and write to Michael Gove MP, our local Member of Parliament.

When I received the message, I immediately noticed that the agent, a highly seasoned campaigner and bullet dodger, had chosen not to endorse it’s one-sided exhortation and had merely described it briefly as ‘self explanatory’.

My response was to email Michael Gove to say that I was glad that he was supporting gay marriage, that frankly I expected nothing less and that I thought prejudice should not be tolerated. I copied Geoffrey Vero in.

Geoffrey quickly responded saying he was ‘interested in’ my use of words i.e. prejudice and then bizarrely tried to accuse me of calling him a ‘proverbial bigot’ – an accusation I didn’t feel appropriate and evidently never made. 

In response, I wrote him a reasonably lengthy email laying out the self-evident fact that treating gay and lesbian couples differently is a form of prejudice and invited him to respond with any principled arguments against gay-marriage as in fact he hadn’t done any more than protest that the process seemed a little ‘rushed’ in the Newsnight interview.

Sadly he chose not to respond with any arguments, but merely pleaded that we should ‘agree to disagree’.

Actually, I can’t agree to disagree. Geoffrey is wrong and he needs to be openly challenged rather than allowing him to attempt to garner support by appealing to other’s ill-considered prejudices.

Lavinia Sealy has been more forthcoming. In her recorded interview she said that this issue was ‘not a question of religion it’s a question of our natural beings’. She went on to conjure up some rather graphic images by contrasting that in her opinion Men and Women ‘fit together’..

Lavinia also said that she thinks the issue requires a lot more thought. And on that alone I agree.

Many of the older generations who form a large proportion of Conservative membership grew up in an age when Homophobia was not just widespread but was the default view. Countless people went through the agonies of self-denial trying to live false heterosexual lives for fear of repression. Others were treated as outcasts or perverts for simply following their natural (there’s that word again Lavinia) inclinations – for simply being themselves.

It is utterly wrong to discriminate and it’s completely wrong for Geoffrey and Lavinia to use their positions to seek to bolster support for their views – the headline of this post illustrates the inevitable interpretation.

I would urge anyone who is thinking of supporting them to think very deeply about this issue. To ask themselves honestly, if they are in any way inclined to do so, if they are responding to a deeply principled case for denying equality of opportunity or if they are instead being guided by a long ago embedded prejudice of their own or others.


Anonymous said...

It's a fact that Men and Women are different. They react differently to many issues not least the issue of sexual preference.

Womens' natural role is to bare and raise children. Mens' role is to provide for their families.

Today due to the economic conditions society has had to adapt, but the fundamental tenents

This is an issue of individual consience but this law will pass. Politicians who oppose it for their own reasons should cosider their positions.

Let's move on.

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