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- Conservative homophobia masquerading as support for 'family values' (17 May 2002)
- Tory MP Andrew Hunter severs links with "Right Now!" Magazine (17 May 2002)
Conservative homophobia masquerading as support for 'family values' (17 May 2002)
The House of Commons yesterday evening passed an amendment (288 for, 133 against, majority 155) to the Adoption and Children Bill which will have the effect of allowing (assuming it is passed by the House of Lords) unmarried couples to adopt children. Currently, only married couples may adopt as a couple, although single individuals may adopt, too, although not in joint names should the adopting individual live as an unmarried couple with another. Under this amendment (and some others to be debated next week) unmarried couples, whether heterosexual or homosexual, would theoretically be eligible to apply to adopt.
Conservative MPs were whipped (i.e. obliged as a Party policy) to oppose the amendment, although four disobeyed and voted for the amendment (well done!) - Kenneth Clarke, David Curry, Andrew Lansley and Robert Walter.
Those supporting the amendment think that it will increase the pool of potential adoptive parents (which I consider to be a sensible approach), whereas those who opposed it claim that married couples alone can provide children with the required level of stability.
Predictably Conservative Health spokesman, Tim Loughton, said the supporters were promoting a 'gay rights agenda' and that the Tories were not "anti-gay or pro-marriage" (see next sentence) but that he believed marriage provided the best foundations for adoption. Let's get this clear - the objective of the amendment is to try and ensure that as many children in care can be found suitable homes into which they can be adopted, rather than having to spend much of their childhood in homes or in a succession of foster homes - but I must admit I am surprised that a Conservative said they are not 'pro-marriage' (bit of an own goal there, I would have thought); I thought this was one of the pillars of their argument.
I think few would disagree that a happy home with a married mother and father is probably the ideal setting in which to raise children - but if such an ideal situation is not possible for all children (and unfortunately it seems it is not), then it seems to me sensible (and humane) to look for the best possible substitute - focussing entirely on the needs of the children. It is paradoxical (and of course very necessary) that potential adopters are checked rigorously to ensure they will provide a suitable environment for sometimes troubled youngsters in need of stability and love in which to develop into balanced adults, but that there is nothing to prevent a man and a woman (married or unmarried), who happen to be entirely unsuited for various reasons to be parents, having sexual intercourse and thereby producing a child for whom they are incapable of providing a happy, secure and caring home (the UK apparently has the highest rate of unmarried teenage pregnancies of any advanced country, for example).
Conservatives seem to have nothing to say about this. So far as children in care are concerned, it would appear they would rather children remain in care than see them adopted by couples who do not meet their theoretical ideal. Last evening on BBC1 'Question Time' Michael Heseltine brought up the case of a child whose parents may have died and who may have objected to their orphaned child being adopted by a gay coouple - well I doubt if very many children in care today (although perhaps it may have been more true in past times) fall into this category, but if such a view had been expressed by parents now deceased, then it would seem reasonable to me to at least take the parents' wishes into account. However, I suspect most parents in such a situation would (above all) wish only that their child find a new home where (s)he could mature in a loving, secure environment, without worrying overmuch about the marital status of the adoptive parent(s). No, I think that Mr Heseltine was expressing what sounds like a view based on homophobia - he pointedly made the comment about gay couples, but left unsaid whatever views he may have on unmarried heterosexual couples unspoken. The same is true of Tim Loughton's attempt at justifying his Party's policy.
Evan Harris, the Liberal Democrat Health spokesman, criticised the Tories when he said "Gay adoption per se is not at stake here, even though people want to make it at stake. It's about having an evidence-based approach, having a rational basis not an irrational basis in adoption policy." Quite - and from a spokesman for a Party most charitiably described as 'bland', that is a welcome summary.
Tory MP Andrew Hunter severs links with "Right Now!" Magazine (17 May 2002)
Andrew Hunter, a former deputy chairman of the 'Monday Club' (whose links with the Conservative Party were recently suspended), is reported to have written to far right magazine 'Right Now!' advising he can no longer be linked with it "in any way". Apparently, the magazine shares a postal address with the 'Monday Club' - one really has to ask how far, in reality, Mr Hunter had severed his relationship with the 'Monday Club', necessary for him to retain the Conservative whip since its links with the Party were suspended (..just my cynical soul asking what seems to be an obvious question).
His action follows an advertisement carried in its latest issue by the hard-right 'Conservative Democratic Alliance' (CDA), which states it is "horrified by Tory frontbench spokesmen advocating gay lifestyles and New Labour ideas". Mr Hunter goes on to say that he supports Mr Duncan Smith and has been appalled by the "antics" of the CDA, and a spokesman for Mr Duncan Smith said: "We welcome Andrew's decision, which will send a clear message that the party has changed on these issues." Perhaps the Party really is trying to change - one can only live in hope. Full story is on 'Gay.com'. My remarks when Mr Hunter finally resigned from the Conservative Party in October 2002 may be viewed by clicking here.
Copyright © 2002 William Cameron