Green MP Caroline Lucas: ‘People in Brighton remember Thatcher’s opposition to gay rights’

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Green MP Caroline Lucas has cited Margaret Thatcher’s opposition to gay rights as one of the reasons for abstaining from Wednesday’s Commons debate, in memory of the former PM, who died on Monday.

“I opted to spend my time working on constituency issues rather than join in the seven-hour display of Tory hero worship in the House of Commons for someone who caused the British people so much misery,” the MP for Brighton Pavilion told the Mirror.

“In my constituency, people remember all too well Thatcher’s opposition to gay rights, her reckless housing policies and cruel indifference to inequality.

“She may have been Britain’s first female prime minister, but Thatcher did little for women either inside or outside the House of Commons.

“And she pursued a destructive agenda that marginalised the poor, divided communities and undermined the principles of the welfare state.”

On Wednesday, Ed Miliband joined his political rivals in paying tribute to Thatcher in the Commons, but said her support for Section 28 caused gay people to be “stigmatised”.

Section 28 was introduced during the AIDS epidemic as part of the Local Government Act in 1988.

It banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Section 28 was later removed from the statute book under Tony Blair’s Labour government in 2003 and the current Conservative Prime Minister, David Cameron, apologised for the policy in 2009.

Writing in the Telegraph on Thursday, Alice Arnold – partner of sports presenter Clare Balding and former BBC Radio 4 newsreader revealed she was no fan of Thatcher but spoke of her admiration at David Cameron’s decision to repudiate Section 28.

“If I admire David Cameron for anything it is his ability to make a u-turn, to apologise for his support of Clause 28 and admit to an error of judgement.”

Conservative MP Simon Kirby, whose constituency includes Kemptown, home to the majority of Brighton’s gay venues and many of its LGBT residents paid tribute to Thatcher shortly after her death.

He praised her resolve in the aftermath of the bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel in 1984, which took place during the Conservative Party Conference.

“She will be remembered fondly in Brighton where she demonstrated her immense courage in the wake of the 1984 bombing, and sent out a strong message that the country would not bow to terrorism,” Mr Kirby wrote on his website.

“Through her tenacity, vision and belief in Britain she revived this country’s fortunes and made us a force in the world.”