In a matter of hours, Tony Blair will officially step down as Britain’s Prime Minister, leaving the tony seat for fellow Labour-ite Gordon Brown.
Britain made great gay strides under Blair’s rule, including the abolishment of Section 28, which forbade “promotion” of homosexuality. Will Brown continue Blair’s pro-gay tradition? If his voting record – or lack thereof – provides any indication: no.
Gay activist Peter Tatchell exclaims,
Gordon Brown has missed more gay equality votes in parliament than any other MP. In 13 out of 14 votes in the House of Commons Mr Brown has not bothered to turn up and vote. While I doubt he is homophobic, he has failed to make any serious effort to vote in favour of gay law reform. The out-going Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and other Labour Ministers have a much better track record when it comes to voting for gay equality. Gordon’s frequent absences send the wrong signal. They suggest he doesn’t believe gay human rights are important.
As Chancellor of the Exchequer, civil partnerships fall under Brown’s thumb. Unfortunately, he missed the vote. He also missed the Section 28 vote, as well the gay adoption and Equality Act votes, according to Pink News UK. They also say he’s worse than Conservative leader David Cameron, a man who made no secret of his distaste for gays, yet still managed to vote for civil partnerships.
Perhaps Brown’s trepidation stems from his own suspect sexuality. The Scottish politico apparently garnered quite the reputation as a bachelor:
There is no doubt Mr Brown cultivated his sober, earnest image in the early years of his political career, at a time when Labour was attempting to shake off its reputation for economic incompetence.
With his close-knit group of friends and advisers, such as Ed Balls and Geoffrey Robinson, Mr Brown could afford to be more relaxed.
But as shadow chancellor, he wanted to be seen as a model of rectitude and prudence, a fearsome guardian of the purse strings, unafraid of making tough decisions.
His continued bachelor status had, meanwhile, sparked rumors he was gay – something he politely but firmly denied when asked about it by Sue Lawley on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs.
Brown later married and bred with a PR executive named Sarah Macaulay.
Regardless of the rumors, it’s clear Brown never put gay rights at the top of his agenda. Would it be better to have a virulent homophobe? Maybe. At least then you know what you’re getting.