Election: Why, as a gay man, I'll be voting Labour on Thursday (Opinion)

2017-06-05
On 8 June there are just two parties who’ll be battling it out to form a government, two options for us as LGBT+ people to take. Sure, there are smaller parties in the running, but most seats will either be turning blue or red. Now more than ever there are opposing, radical visions for this country on offer, and to me as a gay man it’s quite obvious that our community should be Labour to its core. But if right right now you’re still feeling immune from a bout of Corbyn-fever, let me try and make you catch it. Just a flick through the two manifestos published by Labour and the Conservatives will give you some sense about what each party are offering LGBT+ people. Labour have a whole page dedicated to our community; the Tories failed to reference our acronym even once. Labour has pledged to train teachers to deal with the bullying of LGBT pupils, LGBT hate crimes will be given parity to attacks based on race and faith. There’ll be a change in the law to better protect trans people, the NHS will finally prescribe PrEP. “We will expand our global efforts to combat extremism, terror, and the perpetration of violence against people because of their faith, gender or sexuality,” is all the Conservatives have to say on the matter. It’s not surprising, really, if you look at May’s chequered past. Theresa May voted to keep Section 28 when its repeal was voted on in parliament, she said no to same-sex adoption and equalising the age of consent. Sure, she voted in favour of same-sex marriage legislation, but standing alongside us when the battle has already been won doesn’t make you an ally to be applauded and trusted. May’s visited and called “fantastic" an anti-gay church last week when out on the campaign trail, while serving MPs in her party have said that to be gay is wrong. It’s MPs in her party who, during debates about gay rights, labelled us "gross and unnatural”, cabinet ministers argued “a wholly satisfactory existence” we did not live. And as for Tim Farron? Well, he still seems to think gay sex is a sin, so the Liberal Democrats aren't much better. It’s Jeremy Corbyn who voted for each and every piece of LGBT+ equality legislation, and the last Labour government that dragged our rights into the 21st century after hundreds of years of persecution and hate. But I don’t just vote as a gay man when it comes to general elections. I also vote as a white man, and relatively privileged one for that matter too. Our education system is currently being sold off to the highest bidder, and there’s a never-ending crisis in our NHS. As queers we’re more likely to drop out of education, to find ourselves homeless, to rely on healthcare services to keep us alive; so the cuts hit us harder than most. But our community extends beyond the boundaries of LGBT+ walls, and we have a responsibility to all those around us. For the past seven years there’s no doubt that life for many of us has got harder: for young people, for the disabled, for Muslims, and those seeking refuge in Britain from hardship and war. But there will be those in our community, most likely white, middle class and middle aged men, who’ll be planning to vote Conservative on 8 June regardless. Those who are climbing the ladder that LGBT+ people before us fought with all they had for, but who are now refusing to reach out a hand and give others some support on their way up. It wasn’t long ago that you, just like them, were outsiders; demonised and looked down on by society and the state. Now we have a responsibility to make space for those still suffering, whether it's refugees the Conservatives have callously left drowning, or the long-term unemployed getting mocked on our television sets. This time, for the first time in my lifetime, Labour will let us. So, why will I as a gay man be voting Labour this Thursday? To be honest I don’t see there being another rational choice to make. Words by Michael Segalov More stories: Sex expert tells gay men to try cruising because it’s ‘more exciting’ than Grindr Watch: Ariana Grande’s tearful performance of ‘Over The Rainbow’ at One Love Manchester