Over in England, Tory leader David Cameron has been “courting the gay vote over the past 12 months” and is “fielding a number of openly gay candidates at the next general election,” but during a recent interview with Gay Times magazine, he struggled to justify the party’s weak voting record on gay issues.
Asked why, “in light of his recent pronouncements on gay rights” and belief that gay equality is a fundamental human right, his party refused to “support a motion condemning a homophobic law in Lithuania,” Cameron fumbled with an answer before asking the magazine to pause the interview:
CAMERON: The party has changed and I think all center-right parties, all conservative parties have to go on this journey and I think we’ve probably gone a bit further and faster than some conservative parties in other countries and there won’t be any turning back. So I understand the concern, but I think the change that’s happened is rea, lasting and irreversible.
QUESTION: But when you say you have free votes in this Parliament. The Parliament for which you are responsible. If you accept, as you did in the beginning of the interview that gay equality is basically a fundamental human right, it shouldn’t be a free vote.
CAMERON: You’re right…the two votes are very different, sorry….You know, it’s right that it should be a free vote…Can we stop for a second? I really want to answer these questions…I almost like to start completely from scratch…
The Guardian points out that last summer, “Cameron offered a public apology for section 28, the controversial Tory legislation introduced in the 1980s that banned the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools” even though he voted “against the repeal of section 28 as recently as 2003.
So in Britain, the change in conservative attitudes towards gay rights seems more rhetorical than substantive, which, incidentally, would be considered progress in the States, where many lawmakers are still trafficking homophobic slurs and innuendos.