Thursday, March 15, 2007

Sexual Orientation Regulations - Debate Stifled - MP

North Thanet's MP, Roger Gale, has today, accused the Government of trying to stifle debate prior to a vote on the highly contentious sexual orientation regulations.

The Regulations, which will give teeth to aspects of the Equality Act 2007, were considered as a Statutory Instrument in Committee Room 11 this morning and carried.

Only one of ten back-bench MPs hoping to speak (most not members of the committee appointed to deal with this issue) was called to speak in the debate which is timed to last for just one and a half hours.

Challenging the Leader of the House (Jack Straw) on the floor of the House at Business Questions Roger Gale asked why this Statutory Instrument was hidden in committee when the Government was finding time, before the Easter Recess, to have another Instrument relating to Casinos debated in the Main Chamber.

The MP also asked

"Will the Leader of the House guarantee that this measure will not be slipped through on a formal vote late at night or as a deferred (paper) division before the House has at least had the chance to discuss this issue during the Easter Adjournment debate."

Responding to Roger Gale and other members Jack Straw said that the issues had been debated during the passage of the Equality Bill, had been "thoroughly considered" during the Statutory Instrument hearing and that the procedures used had had the support of the Opposition Front Bench.

After the exchange Roger Gale said:

"With most of the churches in the country up in arms against these detailed proposals - which were not, of course, available during the passage of the Equality Act - and with many Members of Parliament wishing to register, on behalf of themselves and their constituents, strong objections to these measures it is, frankly, outrageous that the House will be denied a proper debate on what should have been a short bill on the matter.

Whatever view is taken - and it is clear that there are forcefully and honourably held opposing positions - it is quite wrong that such a sensitive issue should be brushed under the carpet as the result of a clandestine front-bench deal to avoid controversy and division.

There will, as a result of this squalid episode, be very many people who will feel, I think rightly, that they have been denied the right to have their views fully and properly aired in Parliament.

Episodes like this can only bring the House into further disrepute and make the public feel more strongly than ever that parliament is irrelevant to their desires. This is a very sad day for British democracy".


stuart said...

Ha! Times have changed Roger, and now you should too!

I take great pleasure in watching all the old homophobes losing the right to carry on in their bigoted ways!

Anonymous said...

Regardless of one's position on the matter this country is still a democracy and a matter of such sensitivity, as Roger says, should be properly debated.

Did I say we were living in a democracy? Silly me!

Anonymous said...

Stuart, you do the sexually orientated group you belong to, no favours when you accuse Roger Gale of being a homophobe! The issue he raises is the dumbing down and silencing of our Parliament by this Government with its huge surplus of lobby fodder. I wonder what your view would be if we had an extreme right wing government installed at Westminster with a huge majority that then rode roughshod over Parliament as Blair has done and with the power given to it by our democratic process, then discriminated against our gay minority as this Government has discriminated against other minority sections of our community?

stuart said...

Anon 8.34 I don't believe you know what sexually orientated group I do belong to!

Are you assuming I am gay because I don't agree with Roger Gale?!

Anonymous said...

Not at all; my words were deliberately chosen to be non-specific. What I was taking exception to was the labelling of Roger Gale as a 'homophobe'. It is a much abused and mis-used term as is the labelling of some-one as 'racist'. For example, if I decline to support or actually oppose the idea of a Gay Pride Festival in Margate, I might do so on the grounds that is divisive and elitist not because I have an irrational prejudice against homosexuals or lesbians. What are the chances of me then being labelled 'homophobic'?

stuart said...

Pride is not about being divisive or elitist - it's about showing succesful integration with the community. If you'd ever been to a Pride event you'd have seen gay people with their parents, neighbours, friends, little brothers and sisters along with anyone who believes in equality!

DrMoores said...

Stuart, you are being obtuse as usual, which makes it very difficult for others to debate with you.

stuart said...

How rude of you Simon! Just because I'm more liberal than most of your right of centre readers does that make me obtuse?

DrMoores said...

Not rude at all Stuart, simply a statement of fact. I recommend that you read "Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance."

In this case, the argument has very little to do with sexual orientation and a great deal to do with the process of what little democracy we have left to us.

stuart said...

Don't patronise me Simon.

DrMoores said...

You need a little friendly directional assistance from time to time Stuart!