Galloway's Party in Gay Rights Row

Respect's grassroots rebel against alleged deal with anti-gay Islamists.

Respect leadership fails to apologise for excluding gay rights from election manifesto.

London - 22 November 2005

Grassroots members of George Galloway's left-wing Respect party have condemned as "unacceptable" the decision of the party leadership to exclude lesbian and gay rights from their manifesto for the general election earlier this year.

Respect MP George Galloway is now being asked to explain why his party dumped gay rights from its manifesto. Allegations abound that Respect's right-wing Islamist backers demanded the axing of gay rights as a condition of their electoral support for the party.

At Respect's annual conference on Sunday (20 November), delegates rebelled against party leaders who vetoed the inclusion of gay equality in the party's manifesto for the 2005 general election.

The victorious conference resolution 47 stated: "Conference regards it as unacceptable that our manifesto for the general election did not contain any reference to the defence of LGBT rights."

From the conference platform, Respect leader Lindsay German, who is also a senior leader of the Socialist Workers Party, disparaged the resolution, claiming it had a "hidden agenda" and was moved in "bad faith."

"Despite the motion being passed by the grassroots membership, Respect's leaders offered no apology and no assurance that LGBT rights will be included in future election manifestos," said gay left-wing human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

"Respect claims to support LGBT rights but the exclusion of gay rights from its election manifesto suggests otherwise.

"On the Respect website, gay equality is shunted to the sidelines, listed semi-anonymously under 'Other policies'. This shows that Respect regards LGBT rights as a marginal issue of no serious interest or concern. Equally alarming, the policy section of Respect's website has no section on women's rights.

"Respect's disrespect for LGBT people is part of a pattern. One of the party's top leaders, Lindsay German, notoriously warned that gay rights are not a 'shibboleth' and should not prevent Respect forging electoral alliances with homophobic religious fundamentalist groups.

"Respect is in alliance with the right-wing, anti-gay Islamist group, the Muslim Association of Britain. Respect does not ally with liberal and left-wing Muslims.

"The MAB endorses the recreation of an Islamic Caliphate where Muslims would be subjected to the barbarism of Sharia law, which includes the execution of unchaste women, apostates and gay people.

"Respect has betrayed progressive Muslims, in favour of an alliance with Islamist conservatives and fundamentalists whose policies on gay and women's rights are even more reactionary than those of the despicable neo-Nazi BNP.

"Respect has failed to defend gay Muslims against fundamentalist Islamists and it attacks gay rights groups that support Muslim queers.

"The politics of Respect on LGBT rights is reformist at best. It's policies are far less radical than those of the Liberal Democrats. Unlike Respect, the Lib Dems included gay rights in their manifesto," said Mr Tatchell.

Respect annual conference, 20 November 2005, London

Resolution 47 - Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Transgender (LGBT) rights - South East Essex supported by Bristol, Lambeth and Sandwell

"Conference regards it as unacceptable that our manifesto for the general election did not contain any reference to the defence of LGBT rights despite policy adopted at last year's AGM and contained in the founding statement. Conference resolves that in future our manifestos and principal election materials will explicitly defend such rights and call for an end to all discrimination against lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people."

http://www.petertatchell.net/politics/respectconference.htm
Published: 22/11/2005