Comment: UKIP’s disgraceful record on gay rights

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Giles Goodall, a Liberal Democrat standing for election this week in the European Parliament, writes for PinkNews about UKIP’s “appalling” record on LGBT rights.

Political correctness is a bugbear for UKIP, shaking up the polls in the European election campaign.

Not a day seems to go by without another candidate or councillor from the party putting their foot in their mouth, often by offending the LGBT community.

The party’s usual defence is to say the indvidual stepped out of line, doesn’t reflect party policy, or made the statement when they used to be a Tory.

Ironically though, while UKIP rises in the polls, Britain has arguably never been a more LGBT-friendly place.

A report by European LGBT organisations last week ranked the UK the best country in Europe for gay rights.

Since same-sex marriage was brought onto the statute book by Lib Dems in government last year, the move has met with increasing public support.

When the first weddings took place in April, a poll found 69% of Brits agreed that gay couples should be able to marry.

Even among would be UKIP voters – many of whom deserted the Conservatives over the issue – the new law is supported by the majority (54%).

Sadly though, wherever UKIP holds power – currently limited to the European Parliament – their record on LGBT rights is appalling.

In key votes over the past EU parliamentary term, UKIP MEPs have failed to back gay rights time and again. The record of Conservatives is not much better.

In a 2012 vote on tackling discrimination against LGBT couples and their families when moving to another EU country, UKIP MEPs sided with the BNP and voted against.

When the European Parliament voted in 2012 to condemn homophobia in Russia, UKIP’s MEPs either abstained or failed to turn up.

In 2013, UKIP voted against an EU law establishing equal property rights for international couples, whether gay or straight, while Conservatives failed to vote in favour.

In a report on human rights in the world, including sexual orientation and gender identity, UKIP joined BNP leader Nick Griffin in voting against, Conservatives abstaining.

Finally, UKIP (and the Tories) failed to back a call by MEPs earlier this year for a comprehensive strategy against homophobia in Europe.

Overall, a recent report by an all-party group of MEPs on LGBT rights found that UKIP and their European allies had the worst record of any of the seven groups in the European Parliament.

In contrast, Liberal Democrat MEPs have systematically supported LGBT rights, with the European liberal group coming out with the best record in the European Parliament, alongside socialists and greens.

With UKIP’s group voting just 13% of the time to back LGBT equality, they clearly come bottom of the class.

The EU can help us make life better for LGBT people across Europe and around the world. Anyone who cares about equality should use their vote on Thursday – and vote positively to support LGBT rights.

Giles Goodall is a Liberal Democrat candidate for MEP in South East England.

Follow him on Twitter: @GoodallGiles

As with all comment articles the views expressed may not necessarily reflect those of PinkNews.