Equality minister dodges gay issue

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Ruth Kelly refused to give a clear answer on her views of homosexuality today when confronted in reaction to an investigation by PinkNews.co.uk which found she had never voted for gay rights and is a member of an anti gay Christian group.

The Minister for Equality and Women appeared on BBC Radio5 Live and was immediately drawn into a defence of her poor voting record in regards to gay rights.

The presenter, Nicky Campbell asked her three times if she viewed homosexual acts as sin, a belief held by the Opus Dei group which she is a member of, Ms Kelly replied, “I don’t think its right for politicians to start making moral judgments about people, it’s the last thing I want to do.

“The questions is what are my political views and as a politician I think everyone should be free of discrimination.

“Is it possible to be a Catholic and hold a portfolio in government, the answer is emphatically yes. I am responsible for holding to the collective cabinet view on these matters but I firmly believe in equality and that everyone should be free of discrimination and I will fight to the end to make sure that’s the case.”

On 22nd June 1998, Ruth Kelly, 38, was absent from the Crime and Disorder Bill to reduce the age of consent, as she was on the 1st March 1999 and the 10th February when the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill sought to achieve the same goal (the first having been rejected by the Lords).

On the 24th October 2001, she was absent from the voting on the Relationships (Civil Registration) motion that was the catalyst for introducing the Civil Partnerships bill in Parliament.

On the 29th October 2001, she was absent from the third reading of the Adoption and Children Bill (Programme), to allow gay couples to adopt, as she was on further votes on the same subject on 16th May 2002, 20th May 2002 and the 4th November 2002. On the 10th March 2003, she was absent from the vote to repeal section 28 which banned local authorities from promoting homosexuality as a valid lifestyle.

On the 12th October 2004, she was absent from the vote on the Civil Partnerships Bill, as she was on the 9th November 2004.

The mother of four defended her gay rights voting recording, “Everybody is entitled to express their views in free votes on matters of conscience and I’ve always made clear that as a member of parliament I’ve cast my vote according to conscience but I’m also a member of the government its my duty to see through equality and I’m passionate to see there is no discrimination.”

Glenda Jackson, MP for Hampstead and Highgate defended Ms Kelly yesterday, she told PinkNews.co.uk the votes in question were a “matter for individual conscience.”