Gordon Brown: Homophobic or too busy?

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As Tony Blair is expected to outline his resignation plans later today, PinkNews.co.uk analyses the Prime Minister’s likely successor.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, has consistently failed to support gay rights in Parliament since the Labour party was elected in 1997.

Mr Brown is well known to be preparing himself to challenge for the leadership of the Labour party following the impending resignation of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

Newspaper reports claim rows have emerged between Mr Brown and Mr Blair over claims that the Chancellor is behind a leadership coup.

Mr Brown has remained silent amid demands for the Prime Minister to quit and party resignations.

Political analysts believe Mr Blair could now step down as soon as Christmas or at least before next year’s Labour Party conference.

Research by PinkNews.co.uk has shown that he has never attended Parliament when gay rights have been voted on whilst Labour has been in power.

Mr Brown has on 14 separate occasions failed to attend the House of Commons when issues relating to gay equality were voted on. He failed to support the government’s equalisation of the age of consent, the abolition of Section 28, gay couples being able to jointly adopt, civil partnerships and the Equality Act.

The registration of civil partnerships are the responsibility of the Treasury, the department that Mr Brown heads.

In late July, the Labour rebel John McDonnell, MP for Hayes Harlington declared his intent to challenge Mr Brown for the leadership of the Labour party. Unlike Mr Brown, Mr McDonnell has voted positively in every one of the fourteen divisions relating to gay equality held since 1997.

Whilst Mr Brown is considered the front-runner to succeed Mr Blair, he may face challenges from Cabinet colleagues David Miliband, Alan Johnson, or Dr John Reid.

Mr Miliband, considered to be Mr Blair’s own choice of heir was only elected in 2001 but has risen quickly up the ministerial ranks to find a place at the Cabinet table. Of the ten divisions he could have attended since entering the House of Commons, he has attended nine and voted in favour of gay rights on all of those occasions.

Mr Johnson attended eight of the fourteen divisions relating to gay rights since 1997 including votes to equalise the age of consent and allow gay couples to hold civil partnerships. Whilst Dr Reid attended only five votes, he did support allowing gay couples to jointly adopt amongst other measures.

Mr Brown could possibly argue that he was “too busy” to attend the votes. However, even with his greater work load, Mr Blair managed to attend four divisions relating to equalising the age of consent and allowing gay couples to jointly adopt.

Indeed, Mr Brown could be considered to posses a worse record than David Cameron, the leader of the Conservatives.

Mr Cameron did vote against gay couples adopting but did vote for the introduction of the Civil Partnerships Act. Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats has voted in favour of gay rights on ten separate occasions since 1997.

Press secretary in the Treasury, Damian McBride, told PinkNews.co.uk: “This is a ridiculous, irresponsible and shameful piece of garbage from a newspaper which does not understand the Parliamentary process.

“If The Pink News wants to portray Gordon Brown as homophobic, can they explain why he has done more than any politician in history to reform the tax system in favour of gay couples – at every stage of which he has been opposed by David Cameron and his anti-gay cronies.

“If The Pink News believes its readers would be better off back in the hands of the Section 28 Tories rather than a Chancellor who has ensured equal tax rights and employment laws for gay people, they are barking mad.”