Theresa May admits Tories 'wrong on gay rights' in the past

Posted On: 
27th July 2017

Theresa May has admitted the Tories were "wrong" in their attitude to gay rights in the past but have "come a long way" on the issue.

Theresa May speaking at Prime Minister's Questions last week

Speaking to mark the 50th anniversary of the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales, the Prime Minister acknowledged her own voting record had been chequered when it came to LGBT issues.

In 1998 Mrs May opposed reducing the age of consent for gay people from 18 to 16, and in 2002 she voted against letting gay couples adopt children.

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However in 2004 she supported Labour's legislation introducing civil partnerships and in the last Parliament she backed the Equal Marriage Act.

Despite her record, Mrs May said she and her party could now take pride in the role they had played in advancing equality. 

Writing for the Pink News website, 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.

"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. But like the country we serve, my party and I have come a long way."

In a short piece for the same site, former prime minister David Cameron said introducing same sex marriage was one of his "proudest achievements in government".

But he called for further action to enhance equality, saying: "There are more laws that need to be passed; more support to be offered and, above all, more attitudes to be changed. But this month, let’s look back on the progress made over the past 50 years.

"In doing so, I take pride in the role I played championing equal marriage and delight in the joy marriage now brings to thousands of gay men and women across the country. In 50 years time, I hope this is seen as a further landmark step on the road to LGBT equality."

Meanwhile Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "I am proud of the role the Labour Party played in these advances...

"But this progress is not down to MPs in Parliament... these achievements belong first and foremost to the LGBT community who have persevered against prejudice for many years."

He also called on Mrs May to stand up "in the strongest terms" to the "hatred and discrimination" shown by US president Donald Trump on LGBT issues.