LGBT group slams university over David Cameron’s equal marriage ‘honour’

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The LGBT society at De Montfort University has hit out at the uni’s decision to award its highest honour to Prime Minister David Cameron, for his work fighting for same-sex marriage.

The Conservative PM was made a Companion of the University yesterday, for facing down opposition including in his own party to push through the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act in 2013 – which finally allowed same-sex couples to tie the knot.

He was presented with the accolade – previously given to Nelson Mandela – at a special ceremony held inside 10 Downing Street.

However, in a statement to PinkNews, student group DMU LGBT hit out at the decision – claiming the honour should have been handed to Lib Dem former Equalities Minsiter Lynne Featherstone instead.

The group said: “Whilst David Cameron was the leader of the coalition during the passing of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, we feel it is unfair for David Cameron to be the focal point of this achievement.

“Same-sex marriage was not on the 2010 Conservative manifesto, therefore, it is suffice to say that the act was equally brought into fruition by the efforts of the Liberal Democrats, in particular, the Equalities Minister at that time, Lynne Featherstone.”

The group is also angry it was  not consulted, demanding “an explanation from De Montfort University as to why students were not consulted prior to the presentation of the award”.

It continues: “Economic policies put in place during the last government disadvantages LGBT youths. This includes cuts to funding for various LGBT charities.

“Whilst David Cameron may be personally pro-LGBT in recent times, as the leader of the Conservatives, we believe he should hold some degree of responsibility for his party.

“This is in regards to a recent vote at the European Parliament, where both Conservative and UKIP MEPs voted against the ‘EU strategy for equality between women and men post 2015’, which proposed better protections and rights for women and LGBT peoples across the EU.”

The university’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard – a former Labour councillor – was part of the group who presented the Prime Minister with the accolade.

The nomination was reportedly first made by Lord Alli, the university’s former Chancellor and an out Labour peer who also championed same-sex marriage.

A spokeswoman for the university said: “Academia is all about debate.

“The university understands that, of course, people will react in different ways to this award and DMU respects their right to express and debate opinion.

“This award is not about political colours but recognises the overwhelmingly positive change that equal marriage has brought about for thousands of people across the UK.

“We were delighted that students and staff from the university’s LGBT communities were able to be part of this historic day.”

Accepting the award yesterday, the Prime Minsiter echoed the words he first wrote on PinkNews when same-sex marriage became law, saying: “I am honoured to have been recognised by De Montfort University in this way.

“I have long believed in marriage as the bedrock of society and I am proud that in Britain whether you are straight or gay the State will recognise your relationship as equal.

“Together we should be proud to live in a country judged to be the best place in Europe if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.

“We are a nation that is growing stronger economically because of our long term economic plan. But I hope we can also be a country that is growing stronger socially because we value love and commitment equally.

“I am humbled to see this important moment for our country recognised in this way, and I dedicate this honour to all those who helped to make it happen.”