Galloway: Respect candidates can be anti gay

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Respect Party MPs are not expected to adhere to a unified policy on gay rights, says George Galloway.

The senior party figure told that no candidate would ever be forced to agree on opposing issues, he said: “Because we’re a coalition we don’t bind a Muslim candidate in Yorkshire to the explicitly socialist parts of our programme.”

“Many of them are small business people and wouldn’t describe themselves as socialists and are not bound to accept it. And the same goes for other issues including tax and these issues. But the leading figures in Respect, you know who they are, their views are well known. Mine are well known.”

He said that the differences between the socialist and Muslim groups in his party should be approached “like porcupines making love, carefully.”

“The task of keeping a coalition of disparate forces together on these issues is difficult, it’s not easy, we’re trying and we’re doing our best.”

“I’ve been explicit as I can on these issues, and I’m arguably the leading figure in Respect, not its leader, we don’t have leader but the leading member in it in terms of being well known and I’m being explicit. It will be read by every one.”

“I’ve always had on my staff many gay people. I have many gay friends, and many activists in Respect are gay. So there is no sense in which we are wanting in this debate.

“Our policy could not be clearer as an organisation, we are against all forms of discrimination, we are for self determination. These are the phrases that are used.”

Respect was criticised at the last election by its own trade unionist members for failing to include a manifesto commitment for equality and gay rights. Mr Galloway said: “A manifesto commitment is important if you are going to be forming a government. I was running as a parliamentary candidate here and made clear, because I was pressed by New Labour, hypocritically, to do so, made clear my own views.”

“Our founding document, our constitution, expresses these concepts, so I don’t think that we’re not in anyway short of anyone else, and the difference is that we really mean it, some of the others don’t.”