Sunday, September 09, 2012

A Very Bad Week for Equalities

It has often been said that a week is a long time in Politics – but last week was simply a very bad week for equalities.

Not only has David Cameron removed three women from the cabinet and added just one women, she is Maria Miller, now the new culture secretary and also responsible for Women and Equalities, an appointment that has immediately attracted significant criticism from equality campaigners . Gone is equalities champion LibDem Lynne Featherstone, off to a new role in the Department of International Development, but as far as I can see her role as Equalities Minister is not being replaced, signalling that the equalities agenda is being further marginalised by this government .

Instead the Women and Equalities role which had been part of the overall responsibilities of Home Secretary Theresa May is now part of the overall responsibility of the New Culture Secretary arguably because she is a working mum and will champion the cause for women.

Unfortunately other protected characteristics may not be as lucky.  Maris Miller has a long and questionable record when it comes to voting on LGBT issues. She has voted against gay adoption and fertility treatment for lesbian couples and has managed to be absent from every other vote regarding LGBT issues since she became an MP in 2005.

For trans people this is a sad time.  Lynne Featherstone has long been a champion of Trans rights helping to get the gender recognition proposals in to law and more recently publishing the transgender action plan.  I have to wonder what will now happen to that.  Will the Transgender Action plan simply get left on a shelf never to be revisited?

After the criticism for reducing the presence of women in cabinet by 20% last week, David Cameron has apparently now ordered Maria Miller to draw up plans to appeal to women voters – and with quite a lot of feminist pressure in the news I suspect that the trans issues will move to the back burner.  

At the same time with a huge campaign underway by the Catholic Church in Scotland opposing same sex marriage and a new minister responsible for equalities who has a record of opposing gay rights and seems opposed to same sex marriage, I suspect that much of the work that Lynne Featherstone had done to progress equal marriage will also be undone.

So what action can we take - On the site a petition has already started asking the Prime Minister to remove Maria Miller as Minister for Equality – I have signed it – Please consider doing the same - She is simply the wrong person for the equalities job.

Sign the petition to remove Maria Miller here

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