Politics

Who Should LGBT+ People Vote For?

General Election fever is in full-swing. Different areas of society are being urged, swayed and pleaded with to vote a certain why. With that in mind, who should the LGBT+ citizens of the United Kingdom be voting for next month? Labour? The Lib Dems? The Greens? The major seven UK parties are all very different on their vision for the next steps in LGBT+ equality and here’s why;

The en vogue parties in the LGBT+ community right now are without a doubt the Labour party and the Green party, with the latter soaring in support from gay, bisexual and transgender people. In fact, just this week Peter Tatchell called out for us to vote Green next month to further the agenda of equality. Now, I have looked at the Green party manifesto and everything they want to do for the LGBT+ community is nice, fluffy and genuinely quite lovely, but too typically of them – vapid. There is very little substance to what they specifically would do to help those in the LGBT+ community. Bar misleading claims that Caroline Lucas was the one that drove the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act through the last parliament, the Greens actually have a weak case for the gay vote.

The Labour party are also being touted as champions of LGBT+ rights, despite failing to place Marriage Equality in their 2010 manifesto and even this year their offer is very slim too, only outlining an LGBT Rights Envoy to promote human rights internationally – a good idea but ultimately, it’s not a lot. Plaid Cymru make a positive contribution in their manifesto and are probably the second best choice in this election – with a clear strategy to tackle specific acts of LGBT+ discrimination in many different areas. Their nationalist counterparts the SNP are surprisingly quiet on the subject. In spite of being on the social left; they offer nothing more than an a mirror of Labour’s international ambassador plan. Unsurprisingly, the Conservatives, who probably think the work for LGBT+ equality is done with the passing of same-sex marriage under Cameron’s premiership, offer absolutely nothing specific in their manifesto. UKIP are similarly mute, they haven’t even pledged to increase homosexual activity during drought season. Apparently Farage’s “people’s army” is “not driven by the needs of differing special interests groups”. I guess his is a heterosexual people’s army instead.

Hero… Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone (left) was the biggest LGBT+ advocate in the last Parliament

Is this meagre choice really the best LGBT+ citizens can hope for from the next election? In my view, the answer is no. The real party for LGBT+ people is still plugging away and providing sound basis for a progression in equal rights – and they are the Liberal Democrats. We’re told we’re not allowed to trust my party – we’re simply poisonous in the media realms – not to be entertained on the back of one broken pledge, a mistake no other party has ever made. But just hear me out. In the Coalition government, the Lib Dems succeeded in implementing marriage equality, almost solely on the back of the pluck from former MP Lynne Featherstone. And this is just one example in a long, long history of the Lib Dems catering for LGBT+ needs. The preceding Liberal party was the first to introduce a gay rights section for policy, while the Lib Dems have actively supported drives to make the age of consent equivalent, protect LGBT+ asylum seekers from unjust criminal charges abroad and oppose the ban on teachers being allowed to disclose their sexuality.

Thankfully, the Liberal Democrats haven’t stopped there and the party has pledged even more for LGBT+ citizens in their 2015 manifesto. The Lib Dems want to extend the rights of co-habiting heterosexual couples to homosexual ones, include all relationships in qualification for Civil Partnerships, crack down on homophobic bullying in schools, make homophobic football chanting a criminal offence like racist chanting is, permit humanist weddings, seek to end the disgraceful  and unnecessary bans on blood donation for MSM, pardon those convicted of historical homosexual ‘offences’, and they even match the SNP and Labour’s pledge for an appointed international  gay rights advocate – and in greater detail too.  For gender non-confirming people, the party have pledged to introduce “X” gender markers on passports and eliminate the need for a gender dysphoria diagnosis to acquire legal gender recognition.

Equal rights for LGBT+ citizens is one of, if not my biggest passion in politics and the Liberal Democrats are simply streets ahead in this vicinity and have been for a long long time. I wouldn’t say this if I didn’t mean it and I wouldn’t have joined a party that didn’t put the drive for LGBT+ equality at the heart of their policy making. If you really want a conscious, caring, allied voice for non-heterosexuals in government for the next five years then don’t vote Green, don’t vote Labour, vote Liberal Democrat.

Manifesto Check

Where the parties stand on LGBT+ issues in their 2015 manifestos

LGBT2015

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Student Disunion

#TrollTheNUS – https://www.facebook.com/events/1028359820527087/

Recently the National Union of Students (NUS) released their pre-general election campaign for 2015, a tradition that is supposed to mobilise the youth vote and champion student politics on a national stage – however this year’s campaign is less remarkable for the promotion of student involvement in the democratic process and more for partisan alienation of those who don’t subscribe to a very specific ideology.

The not so subtle smear drive against the Liberal Democrats for what is perceived as a betrayal over the issue of tuition fees in the 2010 coalition agreement is the focal point of their campaign. Seemingly angry at a perceived dent to student finances, the union has spent £40,000 of student money to whinge about it five years later – that costs more than your degree. The NUS is supposed to be an independent body that encompasses, reflects and supports the variant, diverse political views of student bodies up and down the country – and with that in mind, this campaign is disgraceful.

Truth... Tuition fee repayment under Labour and the Lib Dems

Truth… Tuition fee repayment under Labour and the Lib Dems

Firstly, let’s clear up any discrepancies over the Lib Dems controversial U-turn on tuition fees. I, even as a Liberal Democrat member myself have a major issue with the party’s failure to deliver the policy that was one of the focal points of our 2010 manifesto. It’s frustrating but concessions had to be made to form a stable government in a time where the economy was anything but. The less publicised version of events is that both the Conservatives and the apparently supreme student guardians Labour both opposed the abolition of tuition fees, so the policy was undeliverable unless the Liberal Democrats won an outright majority. After all, it’s probably a little silly to expect a party that was awarded just 57 out of 650 seats to enact their full manifesto as the junior party in a coalition government, but I guess that’s a discussion for another time.

Regardless of this shortcoming – which has been persistently apologised for by both the party and Nick Clegg by the way – the Lib Dems are still championing rights for students such as the delivery of the Pupil Premium and commitments to slash public transport costs for students dependent on the service. The point I’m making is a sense of Lib Dem abandonment of the student population is so far wide of the mark.

Clangers... Labour aren't student policy champs

Clangers… Labour aren’t student policy champs

The big issue of this campaign by the NUS is its blatant subterfuge. The union carries very cosy links with the Labour party. Does anyone else find it convenient that the SEVERAL broken pledges by Labour on tuition fees are ignored in this ‘student retribution’ campaign? They pledged to not introduce them, and then did so in 1998. By 2001 they were promising not to raise fees but went right ahead in 2003. Ten years later, the party want to reduce the fees to £6000, which will only benefit those students with more disposable income – just when you thought Labour couldn’t slink any further to the right.  Perhaps, the most staggering fact of all is that students are now paying back less in loans under the Lib Dems than they were under Labour, despite the heightened fees. Surely the NUS’ decision to turn a blind eye to all of these clangers by Labour on student politics has nothing to do with the fact that each NUS leader has been a Labour party member for the last thirty years running, and that the Lib Dems are traditionally their biggest competitor for youth support?

Look for yourself, the party’s each have their own ideas for student politics – some more than others. The NUS should place the impetus on students to explore their own political opinions and form an identity for themselves. They should not pigeonhole a group of people they’re supposed to represent in to a parochial parable that only serves their interests. The so-called National Union of Students has done nothing but disunite the student population by propagating votes for their chosen political ends on the back of a false pretence whilst typecasting 10% of the student population as supporters of poisonous liars.

Accurate... How the campaign should have looked

Accurate… How the campaign should have looked

Thankfully, an anti-campaign aiming to troll these biased perjurers is in place, you can donate money to the Liberal Democrats, if you’re that way inclined and not let the NUS manipulate you with senseless propaganda. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that this campaign is a disgusting betrayal of the student population, something they’re purportedly against. The only liars here are the NUS, they haven’t failed to deliver on a promise, they’ve tried to exploit student to further the power of their UKIP-lite overlords, they should serve the student population – not manipulate them.

#TrollTheNUS – https://www.facebook.com/events/1028359820527087/

Isolation Through Stereotypes

Stereotyping any type of person is problematic. The LGBT+ community, like many others, is rife with preconceived false notions of what ‘should’ constitute an LGBT man or woman. A prevalent stereotype of gay men is that we love pop divas and their music, think Cher, Madonna, Kylie – and while that is true of plenty of gay men around the world, the sheer scope of exposure afforded to this cross-section of gay culture is somewhat isolating to the rest of us.

Obviously gay periodicals and news channels like HuffPostGay, Gay Times and Attitude will commercially benefit from covering news stories pertaining to the aforementioned artists, and I’m sure many gay men have a vested interest in these people but that doesn’t mean that their excursions constitute ‘gay news’.

Irrelevant… Dannii Minogue’s return to music made headlines among gay publications

There are many gay men who are interested in sport, politics and other types of music, to name just a few examples. Shouldn’t gay news outlets publish gay features on a plethora of interests or more simply just cover gay and LGBT issues, rather than paying disproportionate attention to stereotypical music tastes? Printed versions may have to restrict the range of news covered due to lack of space but online, where many of these outlets operate, there is no such excuse.

Of course, these celebrities can largely attribute their popularity among the gay community to their do-gooding, and it remains imperative for rights activists in the media to be reported on when they are active in that process. However, it isn’t factual to suggest that Kylie and Madonna, to stick with earlier examples, are only reported on for equality campaigning. In contrast, Maroon 5 front-man Adam Levine and pop band Fun get nowhere near the same level of coverage despite similar if not excelling levels of activism themselves. Well, Adam Levine does get coverage, but a different kind. In recent years Levine has persistently and vocally championed equal rights and Fun have co-founded the Ally Coalition that encourages the idea of straight allies.

The point I’m trying to make is that the release of Madonna’s album is not ‘gay news’. Liza Minnelli going back to rehab, though sad and upsetting for some, is not ‘gay news’. In fact, just yesterday Attitude published an article listing all the instances of self-reference on Madonna’s latest release, Rebel Heart. I mean really? For the record, I think Attitude is an excellent publication but why are certain gay men’s interests more important than others? I’m sure many consider these stories important or interesting but it isn’t gay-specific news and the sole focus on trivial topics like these only propagates stereotypes of gay men and isolates those who don’t fit in to these conventional interests.

Overlooked… LGBT+ issues in sports are often not given the same importance as pop music

There are a couple of ways that gay news carriers could correct this, and to be honest, it’s surprising it hasn’t already happened. They could either stick to LGBT specific news or feature a wide variety of interests remarked on from a gay angle. Let’s be fair, a certain genre of pop music is not under the ownership of all in the gay community. In modern times, we are told repeatedly that gay men are a diverse group with a wide range of interests, views and beliefs – and rightly so. But why is it that in 2015, we still assume that disco pop is the only thing that gay men are interested in outside of being gay? Obviously, I don’t expect a horse racing pull-out and a motorsports section but why are, for example, potential features on homosexuality in football or even the LGBT policy proposals of political parties being displaced by Britney Spears’ latest robotic effort?

While I concede that it makes financial sense to include these stories in gay magazines, it doesn’t make much sense to exclude other interests held by gay people that may transcend other spheres. This, remember is a community that added a ‘+’ on to the LGBT acronym to be wholly inclusive – it’s time to walk the walk. LGBT men and women should be able to purchase, follow and read gay news and have their other interests covered if the stereotypically common interests of other LGBT people are. Let’s not isolate gay people via the media because they don’t conform to traditional typecasts. It may seem like an over-the-top reaction to a seemingly minor issue but pigeon-holing people is never a good idea, particularly when these outlets are supposed to be representative. Let’s not give others the chance to stereotype those in the LGBT community and embrace the wide variety of interests we share – that’s the right attitude.

One Party vs. UKIP… and The Rest

UKIP won only their second seat in the House of Commons on Thursday in the eagerly anticipated dreaded Rochester & Strood by-election. With Nigel Farage’s party polling at approximately 15%, there is a genuine fear that the purple party can win a healthy number of seats next May. The prominence of ‘acceptable’ xenophobia seems to be rising with UKIP incessantly upping the ante of their anti-EU agenda and to great effect.

With the ascension of UKIP has come an ugly change to the two larger parties. In a frankly thinly veiled effort to win back support, both Labour and the Conservatives have championed a new approach to immigration policy in order to soothe the concerns of the electorate and tempt defected voters back on side. This week, Labour pledged to increase the deferral on immigrants claiming benefits for up to two years whilst the Conservatives have been branded ‘BNP-lite’. In essence, Nigel Farage may finally have a point, it appears Miliband and Cameron are hiding in the shadows from UKIP, but who exactly is speaking out for the 85% that aren’t worried by nefarious immigration scapegoating and the endless propaganda that aims to portray the EU in the same light as Emperor Palpatine’s galactic empire?

Last week, BBC’s Question Time took the bold approach of affording yet more time to discussing the issues of the ‘UKIP-ification of Lab-Con’, the NHS and UKIP themselves. One of the panellists, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown declared that no party had stood up to UKIP, which simply isn’t true. One party had stood up to UKIP a long time ago, but that party is still in the electorate’s bad books over a tuition fees clanger in 2010. The Liberal Democrats are not suddenly shouting anti-immigration and anti-EU rhetoric from the rooftops in the face of UKIP’s rise. In fact, the party has stuck to its principles, ironically given the party’s recent reputation for doing the opposite. Only Nick Clegg challenged Nigel Farage to a debate on the EU and immigration, Ed Milliband weaseled out of one as recently as a week ago. The Liberal Democrats were the only party of ‘in’ during May’s European elections, a bold strategy given the relentless tide of Europhobia in the right-wing press. Just what is this obsession with immigrants anyway? Studies have shown that immigration benefits the crown jewel of British politics, the National Health Service and has contributed £25billion to the British tax fund in recent years. Why are we talking about this so much when benefit thieves are more likely to be British, just as the tax evaders who are bigger burdens on the nation’s economy. Why are we not discussing this in as great a depth?

Too, the Lib Dems are having to battle a dogged tide of populism heading in to next May’s General Election. Given the tuition fee debacle, the party’s unrivalled efforts to challenge UKIP’s deceitful campaigning has largely fallen on deaf ears. Of course, nowadays we’re all expected to humour and indeed hate the Liberal Democrats, having failed to deliver the abolition of tuition fees and then raising them in line with the Conservatives ideals instead. Truthfully, that decision was a major blow to the party’s plans in governments, whilst it allowed them to deliver other policies such as equal marriage and a higher income tax threshold, it did alienate student voters – and understandably so. Of course, the reason the policy couldn’t be enacted was the stubborn opposition from the Tories and Labour, meaning only a majority for the Lib Dems in May would have been enough to realise the policy. Of course, the Lib Dems have made the issue of repayment far easier than under Labour, who bizarrely seem to be winning support from students themselves. As it were, the policy was undeliverable and Nick Clegg was forced to apologise for a policy he would have only been able to implement with 326 seats – but the party are still being battered in the polls, largely because of this slight misbehaviour. Did the Conservatives apologise for U-turns of reorganisation of the NHS or cuts to public spending? Have Labour apologised for abandoning ‘moral politics’ and launching a new initiative against migrants? So then, why are views like Yasmin Alibhai-Brown’s in that we ‘don’t trust the Lib Dems’ but trust Labour and the Tories so common? Is it really fair that the Lib Dems have taken such a hammering compared to the rest of the ‘establishment’? Will the Greens face the some blockade of disdain when they find that free higher education is undeliverable for the mean time too? The answer to the last two is probably not.

The widespread concern for UKIP’s place in the General Election next year is fair and founded. Nigel Farage’s ‘army’ is increasingly sounding like the self-professed ‘racist’ British National Party – in fact, a clip of Chris Huhne’s reaction to Nick Griffin’s policy on Question Time, a few years ago seems to mirror many of UKIP’s stances now. Their dubious morals are constantly under scrutiny and in truth detailing the never-ending list of the party’s gaffes would be tiring and depressing, especially as it never seems to dampen support. It’s time we as a righteous, moralistic electorate put UKIP to the sword like the Liberal Democrats have been for months. As Brian Paddick put it on Twitter; if you hate what UKIP and now Labour and the Conservatives stand for, then it’s time to reconsider voting Liberal Democrat.

The Misrepresentation of a Party: Don’t discount the Liberal Democrats

The Liberal Democrats are currently considered toxic in British politics. In between the last general election and the upcoming election in 2015, the party has fallen from 25% to 6% in the opinion polls.

Criticism for the party has largely stemmed from what was perceived as an ill-informed decision to enter in to a coalition with the Conservatives, and the party’s inability to scrap university tuition fees; inability being the key word. The party’s decision to enter in to government with the Conservatives was controversial but it must be understood that this was a rare opportunity for the party to enact some of their own policies. Unfortunately, the Liberal Democrats could not scrap tuition fees without backing from either the Conservatives or Labour – and they didn’t get it. Although, it wasn’t all bad news, the party has managed to make the issue of repaying tuition fees far easier. However, the electorate, particularly it’s student portion of which Lib Dem support has been traditionally quite reliant is still not satisfied with that and given Scotland’s amnesty from further education debt, that is understandable. In an uncommon twist, the party leader Nick Clegg, who is routinely and often unfairly lambasted and belittled by the wider media and public, apologised for not being able to deliver on this policy – even though the influence of a junior party in a coalition government is greatly constrained. I understand the grievance with the party on this issue; I cannot fathom nor express how frustrated it makes me that this however is accredited to the ‘downfall’ of the Lib Dems. Especially seeing as any resentments held against the Conservatives for their failure to deliver an EU referendum as promised (The Lib Dems are too committed to one by the way), Labour for their economic incompetency or Ukip for their immeasurable number of faux pas are seemingly non-existent.

The Liberal Democrats do not hold as much sway in the media as its opponents. The newspapers in this nation largely lean towards the Conservatives and more recently have begun to serve the right-wing populist agenda of Ukip. In opposition, many newspapers also back the Labour party. As a result, the accomplishments of the party in government are not well-documented or at least, are easily steamrolled by the two larger parties. For instance, the movement for equal marriage was only in one party’s manifesto; the Liberal Democrats’. The Labour party, try as they may, cannot take credit for the Liberals’ work like they did in the mid 20th-century. Likewise, the Conservatives cannot legitimately profess to have toppled Labour’s mess alone. The Lib Dems have played a crucial role in reversing the fiscal devastation left for them. The Tories then tried to reap the praise for the raising of the income tax threshold to £10,000 which is and always has been a Liberal-driven policy – as are the plans to take that step further by raising it once more to £12,500 after 2015.

As well as this, the Liberal Democrats have helped cut immigration in government, eliminated the deplorable practice of detaining innocent children for immigration purposes under Labour. The party are the only ones standing in the ‘IN’ camp of the European Union, surely casting off the ‘wishy-washy’, non-committal reputation the party has. The party has helped boost the number of apprenticeships and has helped create over a million new jobs in the private sector whilst in government. The party has blocked Tory plans to let schools be run for profit, to give millionaires inheritance tax cuts and have cleaned up Labour’s economic nightmare.

In the upcoming election, the Liberal Democrats are the only party continuing to champion LGBT+ rights, the only party taking a serious stance on the drastically serious issue of female genital mutilation, the only party supporting the rights of football fans to enjoy the game without being discriminated against – as well as campaigning for safe standing in English football stadia. The party is also dedicated to reforming unfair drug laws that would stop those in possession of drugs from facing jail time. As well as this, the Liberal Democrats are aiming to criminalise the frighteningly more common acts of ‘revenge porn’. This week, the Lib Dems have come forward as the only major party committed to treating mental illness as seriously as physical ailments.

Liberalism is not irrelevant, no matter what the media says. This brand of politics will always be in demand in this country – it has just fallen on hard times. Obviously, I am writing this with an agenda. I am a proud Liberal Democrat and it would be naive and hypocritical of me to share my views with you like the biased newspapers. But, it’s vital that the electorate don’t rule the Liberal Democrats out of the race. We still have a lot to offer, do your research, and read up on the party’s success and future plans. The fight of our lives is on its way and the Lib Dems have a better chance than you think.

The Death Penalty Should Stay Dead

One of the more arduous, repetitive and indeed controversial political debates currently is that of the death penalty’s restoration. Having not seen an execution for fifty years, recent high-profile crimes such as the murder of Lee Rigby have sparked some support for reintroduction of capital punishment. In fact, Ukip MEP Louise Bours stoked the discussions last week by hinting that Ukip may be in support of the re-introduction.

With an issue like this, there are always strong feelings on either side. Those in favour of reintroduction say it will mean the worst of criminals pay the ultimate price, the families of the victims will get ‘closure’ and it will stop tax-payers funding criminals’ prison life.

However, it isn’t that simple. How are we supposed to teach lessons to criminals if we kill them for their crimes? They won’t suffer, they’re dead. Is it not the ultimate hypocrisy of the justice system to punish killing by killing? Should we not deter society from killing by never using it to solve problems? It’s also short-sighted to assume that victims’ families want the death penalty reintroduced too, with many speaking out against the penalty.

The death penalty is not even a sufficient deterrent of crime. The UK’s homicide rate is 18 times lower than the United States, where they do utilise execution. It’s not even cost-effective to kill violent criminals either, a common misconception is that the death penalty is cheaper than keeping criminals in prison for life – but it isn’t. In the United States, those sentenced to death can end up costing the tax-payer four times as much as those given lifetime incarceration. Those on death row often appeal and can end up waiting for execution for up to twenty years, which hardly solves the prison overpopulation problem either.

And just what are we to do if a jury reaches an incorrect verdict and innocent man or woman is charged with murder and subsequently put to death? Do we then send the executioner to death for what would be the killing of an innocent person? Do we kill the jury too? These cases, although rare do happen – it only takes one instance for this potential law to be thrown in to disrepute.

As far as Ukip goes, Louise Bours support for this motion’s reintroduction reeks of right-wing populism. She’s probably just testing the waters to see if they can ram this in to their manifesto for later this year. Either that, or they hate the EU that much that they simply cannot stand that the organisation opposes the death penalty too. In reality, the death penalty is expensive, labourious, hypocritical and barbaric. Journeying back to a bygone era where brutality was an acceptable resolution is not the answer, as is shown by the USA’s higher crime rate. I don’t think it’s wrong to feel vengeful in situations like these. Of course, those supporting the death penalty have a point – these people don’t deserve to live whilst their victims don’t. Financially, the death penalty isn’t beneficial – let the criminals suffer in prison, their life can be taken away from them without death.

Football is in Debt to its LGBT Fans

It’s 2014 and there are still no openly LGBT people in English football. Not a manager, a player, nor even a physio. Other sporting organisations in the traditionally more conservative United States such as the NFL and the WWE and even Rugby Union and cricket here are streets ahead of ‘the beautiful game’ when it comes to equality.

Homophobia is still a huge problem in English football. The FA and the 92 league clubs are, in my opinion doing little to combat anti-LGBT perceptions on the pitch and in the stands. When I corresponded with the FA, they were proud to boast of several initiatives they had backed including Opening Doors and Joining In and Football vs. Homophobia. Other than placing their name on a few programs, the visibility of the FA’s work is scarce to say the least. In fact, the campaigns they allegedly support haven’t had much success with England’s top clubs either. Just over a quarter of the ninety-two Premier League and Football League clubs are signed up to the Football vs. Homophobia campaign.

The FA has had numerous opportunities to avow its pledge to opposing homophobia but refuses to comment on the provocative choices of Russia and Qatar for the following two World Cups. Sadly, it seems there was greater tumult in the footballing world, when it was alleged that the decision was the product of a payoff rather than the fact the bribers were from a country that incarcerates homosexuals?

The biggest problem is the non-existence of ‘out’ footballing personnel – and the absence of transparency. In recent years, high-profile names such as Thomas Hitzlsperger and Robbie Rogers have come out as gay. The former waited until he was retired to do so and the latter felt he’d be safer from abuse and judgement in the United States, where social conservatism is almost sacred. If that doesn’t highlight the problem then I don’t know what will.

Just this week Malky Mackay and Iain Moody were accused of sending homophobic texts as well as racist and sexist ones, using phrases such as ‘independently minded young homo’ and ‘gay snake’. Imagine being a young gay footballer working under people with those views. In a truly appalling follow-up the League Manager’s Association dismissed Mackay’s and Moody’s heinous behaviour as ‘banter’ and the pair ‘blowing off steam’. Football doesn’t take the issue seriously. Last season, footballers and managers were given the opportunity to showcase their support for LGBT people in football by supporting Paddy Power and Stonewall’s Right Behind Gay Footballers rainbow laces campaign but most didn’t lace up. Only one player from my club did so, which is demoralising – every player in the top six divisions received the laces for free.

It’s important that fans, players and footballing bodies alike make LGBT players feel comfortable to not hide who they are. A recent poll found that 73% of English fans would accept a gay player in either their club or national team, even when we account for demand characteristics and social desirability bias; we can be nigh on certain that the majority of football fans would embrace or at least tolerate more LGBT personnel in the English game. So, we need to ask ourselves why players are still so petrified.

It’s time for football to stop talking the talk and start walking the walk. It’s not enough to say you’re anti-homophobia but do nothing about it. The FA, the Premier League and the Football League need to introduce high visibility initiatives to make gay footballers feel safe enough to ‘come out’ and hopefully soon – that’s the best way to rid the game of homophobia. For too long, football fans have put banter ahead of equality, shoddily made Richard Keys vines ahead of an all-encompassing environment. Seriously, it’s 2014. There are more openly gay active NFL players and WWE wrestlers than there are openly gay players in English football. Our sport may be the world’s best but when it comes to a Premier League for equality; football is doing a Derby County.

Let’s Get One Thing Straight: Why “Heterosexual Pride” Marches Don’t Happen

This weekend, thousands rejoiced and celebrated gay pride events held in the cosmopolitan cities of London and New York. LGBT pride events as they’re perhaps more appropriately named take place across many cities every year, and in turn they produce the painfully offensive and irritating question from many; “why isn’t there a ‘straight pride’?”

On the surface, it almost seems an equitable question. We have gay or LGBT pride movements so why not a heterosexual one? After all, those movements’ sole aim is to establish equality for all regardless of sexual orientation. But when you spend more than half a second considering why no such events take place it becomes glaringly obvious why the question itself is just a little bit stupid.

Quite simply put, there isn’t ‘straight pride’ because nobody has ever tried to quash the mass pride of heterosexuals. The LGBT community has suffered and still suffers discrimination and persecution from all walks of life for the sole reason of being a part of that community.A straight female holding hands with her partner as she walks down the street would be unlikely to draw any attention. A lesbian woman doing the same with her girlfriend is far more likely to be met with negativity or abuse. Heterosexuality is outlawed in a total of zero countries, homosexuality is still illegal in 81. And even now is punishable by death in seven of them.

Death.

People are still legally killed for being gay in 2014.

Shameful… The countries in red show where homosexuality is a crime.

Of course, things aren’t as barbaric and oppressive here. In most parts of the UK and indeed many parts of the US, homosexuality is legal and the right to change legal gender is allowed too, but these changes only came in to place as recently as 30 years ago, and same-sex marriage was only approbated last year. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that homophobia is a myth in the Western world. Let’s not forget that two of the three highest polling political parties in the UK possess a significant proportion of members who still oppose the strive for sexual orientation equality.

LGBT youth are still prone to discrimination in the UK, some will be ostracised by their friends and family for the simple crime of being who they are; the same can thankfully not be said for straight people. This year, a BBC Newsbeat survey found that 42% of LGBT though have sought help for depression and anxiety and 52% have reported self-harm at some point in their lives, considerably higher rates than found in heterosexual youths. Stonewall found that in 2012, 55% of LGBT workers experienced bullying in the workplace and 99% ceaselessly heard homophobic phrases. In fact, in the last week alone, nohomophobes.com have tallied 290,754 tweets referencing such homophobic phrases as ‘faggot’, ‘dyke’ and ‘so gay’ – this is just on Twitter, just of English speakers and just one week’s worth of data.

Still wondering when ‘straight pride’ day is? It’s every day. It’s being able to kiss your partner in public without fear of being heckled, segregated or vilified. What would a ‘straight pride’ event even consist of? Shared memories of that time when everyone of the like was free to love who they wanted? Or maybe a fond reflection on the hard-work heterosexuals have put in to win the basic rights they were never traditionally afforded? Maybe, it’s that ‘pride’ is the wrong word – or perhaps the concept itself is misinterpreted. LGBT pride is not about boasting about sexuality, it’s not about showing off or self worship. It is to commemorate the progress made towards triumphing over the legal and societal oppression of the minority, a time to celebrate and feel safe in an all-encompassing environment (including heterosexuals) to be your whole self, for just one or two days a year.

It doesn’t make you homophobic to have ever wondered why ‘straight pride’ doesn’t exist. But when you look at why LGBT pride events are held and indeed needed, it should answer the question. It’s not about revoking the equal right of straight people to celebrate their sexuality. In truth, heterosexuals should be thankful that ‘straight pride’ isn’t required. After all, LGBT pride events are not state-run initiatives, so if you still think an event to bask in the adversity-free existence of the majority as some oddly coveted equivalent to the celebration of a minority’s push for victory over injustice should occur, then organise it yourself.

They’re Not Being Racist But…: Don’t Vote UKIP

The party everyone is talking about in British politics is UKIP. Whether it be positively or negatively (hopefully negatively), Nigel Farage’s purple and yellow machine of racism national pride has continued to climb the opinion polls like a flesh-eating false widow spider up its unsuspecting victim’s leg. But I’m writing this to gently inform you as to why voting for UKIP in either the upcoming European or General Elections is simply inadvisable.

Remember, it’s not simply the parties that you’ll be voting for, you’re equally voting for its members to make decisions that will affect your life. So let’s have a look at some of the remarkable people that make the UK Independence Party possible;

1. They have links with Far Right European Parties

Yes, that’s right. Nigel Farage’s UKIP are associates of far-right political organisations on the continent. Shocking, I know. In fact, one of the organisations UKIP are part of, is the EFD (Europe of Freedom & Democracy). You probably don’t know a lot about them and nor do I. But, I do know Nigel Farage is co-president of the group alongside Francesco Speroni, who said Anders Breivik’s actions were “in defence of western civilisation”. Another member actually incensed Farage by stating that Breivik “had some good ideas”, he subsequently wrote a strongly-worded letter demanding an apology or UKIP would vacate the organisation. Instead, Marco Borghezio, the man in question responded by saying “Long live the Whites of Europe, long live our identity, our ethnicity, our race… our blue sky, like the eyes of our women. Blue, in a people who want to stay white.” Nigel Farage remains co-president of the organisation as of February 2014.

2. Some are racist and xenophobic

Who would have thought that a party rammed full of people so desperate to let us know that they’re not racist, are actually just that? It’s almost like they were in denial or realise racism isn’t a desirable political characteristic in the view of the electorate. Regardless, we all remember Godfrey Bloom’s “Bongo Bongo Land” gaffe and his incredibly convincing non-apology on Channel 4 news. Apparently the non-racist, definitely not racist, never have been racist, never will be racist, racist? Who? Us?! Never, we’re not racists party weren’t politically astute enough to purge the 2013 Plain English Campaign’s foot-in-mouth award recipient from the party. Another UKIP member when bemoaning the effects immigration had had on the NHS said “I am informed by past media that Black Caribbean and not Black African have a higher instance of schizophrenia. I wonder if this is due to inbreeding on these small islands in slave times or is it due to ­smoking grass.” More recently, Nigel Farage caused offence by negatively stereotyping Bulgarians on BBC’s Question Time. Paul Nuttall brilliantly defused the situation by claiming “Brits fear all immigrants, regardless of where they would come from.” Much better.

Leader: Nigel Farage is the face of UKIP’s xenophobic regime [Photo: Wikipedia]

3. Some are misogynists

Another stupefying fact, I know. To many, it will come as no surprise that Nigel Farage’s party prefer one gender to another, which certainly throws an upcoming section for a loop. In an interview with the Telegraph, Farage digressed his partiality to a lap dance or two, he even touched upon the issue of extra-marital affairs, saying that “everyone does it”, well accept gay men and women if dear old Nigel was to have his way. Of course, blithering sidekick Godfrey Bloom is able to provide us with a few more disbelieving head shakes. Bloom claimed that no employer in their right mind would offer a job to a ‘young, free woman’. Diplomatic, libertarian and equal rights champion Nigel Farage endorsed the comments and thus continues to observe the voluntary female exit rates from UKIP ticking over nicely.

4. Some discriminate based on ableness

Indeed, UKIP infamously refused entry to the party to Jack Biggs. Biggs was 65 at the time of his refusal and is an ex-servicemen who has had both knees replaced. He was told he could only serve as a paper candidate in 2007 but instead  ran independently against UKIP in Weymouth. One member, Geoffrey Clark went as far as to say that babies with disabilities ought to be compulsorily aborted because they will burden the state. Charming.

Repetitive…UKIP proudly promote that one policy they have [Photo: Flickr]

5. Some are homophobic

I know, I know! This latest revelation is painfully inconsistent with everything else in this article but yes the pestiferous purple army are anti-gay too. Of course, many members have made the illogical and laughably untrue connection of homosexuality and paedophilia, Dr. Julia Gasper even alleged “there is so much evidence that even a full-length book could hardly do justice to the ­subject” before condemning the gay rights movement as a “lunatic’s charter”. One member also vowed that homosexuals were not normal and shouldn’t try to shove it down his throat by claiming they are. More recently, Oxford UKIP councillor David Silvester claimed that the latest spell of bad weather was to do with the passing of same-sex marriage. Funnily, it was  some seven months late. But he did have a point, the Met Office revealed this week that Johnny and Danny’s flirting on EastEnders was likely the sole cause for flooding in the Thames valley – there’s your duff duff. The party’s official stance in the lead up to the same-sex marriage debate was as you would expect from uber-Liberal Nigel Farage; stern opposition. According to their official website equal human rights for all regardless of sexuality was “not a burning issue”, “not a matter that animates the discourse of our nation” or more accurately, not a matter that animates the discourse of heterosexuals. Thank goodness, this is one subject these bigoted tyrants were defeated on – looks like we can expect more wet weather to come.

6. Some are liars

Remember on New Years Day 2014 when 29 million Bulgarians and Romanians invaded the country whilst stealing the Polish’s stolen jobs? Well, Conservative MP Anna Soubry claimed that fliers had been handed out in the Broxtowe constituency by UKIP warning just that. An astonishing statistic given that the combined population of both nations is just 27 million. UKIP member Janice Atkinson claimed in February 2014 on an episode of Question Time that 70% of our laws were dictated to us by Brussels (the EU) whilst more accurately the House of Commons claims that is only true for 9.1% – just a slight exaggeration by their standards. Another member even claimed that more people settled in Britain in 2010 than in every other of year preceding 2010 combined. Unsurprisingly that breathtakingly moronic declaration is unequivocally false. In fact, UKIP’s wager against EU immigration is mislead too, given that Poland is the only European nation in the top 5 countries from which immigrants are arriving in the UK. Believe it or not, it’s also not just immigrants that are taking job-seeker’s benefits from the government, in fact, most benefits are paid out to those pesky thieving pensioners. According to a study by Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM) at University College London, immigrants were up to 45% less likely to claim benefits than native Britons. Recent immigrants also contribute 34% more to taxes than is transferred to them, a total worth £25bn. But UKIP are surely right to alert us to these job-stealing immigrants who are somehow subsequently living on job seeker’s allowance. Especially, since us Brits would never be so sly and underhanded. Meanwhile, the UK, the 8th highest emigrating nation in the world, has 10,000 nationals living on job seeker’s allowance in Germany, 86% of whom are fit to work.

Also read;

Sources: BBC, The New Statesman, The Daily Mirror, The Guardian, The Metro, thelocal.de, UKIP’s official website, BuzzFeed, Huffington Post

Political Ramblings of an 18-year-old

I’m not going to profess to being a political expert. There are plenty of issues and protocol that evades me but here is my take on the political situation in Britain.

Influence… Britain’s rag are able to sway many voters.

If you frequent Twitter or any other forum across the country, you will find discontented adults moaning about the political landscape. They usually brand the party or parties in charge as ‘useless’. So how do the electorate punish those who have let them down? They vote in the other party who failed them the term before. This country has got in to an unbreakable cycle of electing Conservatives and then Labour only to be let down by both. Weirdly, people haven’t seemed to catch on. They’re more than happy voting for these two dead horses. In fairness, many people are misinformed or swept up in media hype over political issues. It’s no secret that newspapers and a person’s parents have a huge part to play in the development of a person’s political views.

In fact, before the 1920s, the Liberal party were the second party to the Conservatives, a feat that their phoenix organisation, the Liberal Democrats have failed to recapture. In fact, many people today in the UK, still support the views and policies of the Lib Dems but given a political system that favours just two parties, many consider a vote for the Lib Dems, a wasted one. Many people are unaware that popular policies such as the NHS, Keynesian economics and marriage equality were pioneered by the Liberals but still Labour and Conservatives top the British political hierarchy.

Frozen out… The electoral system does not accommodate for three parties.

As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a Lib Dem supporter. But this post isn’t necessarily aimed to get you to support them. I’m more about campaigning for people to adopt greater political awareness. Misinformation has played a key role in the popularisation of the right-wing UKIP. Many have concerns about the UK’s EU membership. Whether that be right or wrong, few seem to realise that UKIP do not promote patriotism but instead nationalism, a superiority over others due to nationality. A similar political ideal to the Nazi party of 1930s Germany. I’m not saying UKIP are nazis but they are a party that stands for bigotry, an intolerance of equality for sexual minorities, represented by members of a racist disposition.

This lack of understanding leads to the wrong people ruling the country. In my opinion, talk of extending the vote to 16-year-olds is wasted when most 18-year-olds don’t even care enough to voice their opinion. Why? Schools do not focus enough on promoting political sentience, so kids end up voting how the newspapers or their family tell them to, if they even bother in the first place.

I doubt you’ll find many 18-year-olds like me that want to encourage young people to take an interest. How can we complain when we’re voting for people we don’t even support? To be frank, schools should be in charge of developing political ideals in youths, after all that’s why subjects like PDP, PHSE and Citizenship were invented. So now, I challenge everybody reading this to answer the very short quizzes below and make an informed decision in 2015.

http://www.whoshouldyouvotefor.com/england.php (includes UKIP and Green party)

http://www.whodoivotefor.co.uk/ (includes Green party)