Sack Theresa May campaign

// 16 May 2010

campaign poster with photo of Theresa May and text reading Hello, I'm Theresa May, I voted: against repealing Section 28, against lowering the age of consent in homosexual relationships to age 16, against gay adoption rights, against Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill which would give lesbian couples the ability to seek fertility treatment. David Cameron has just made me the Minister for Equality. Sign the petition to have me fired.

A campaign has been launched to sack the homophobic new Women and Equalities Minister, Theresa May. As you can see above, May has repeatedly voted against measures to improve gay rights. She also voted to reduce the abortion time limit from 24 to 20 weeks and abstained from voting on the Gender Recognition Bill (to “provide transsexual people with the opportunity to gain the rights and responsibilities appropriate to the gender in which they are now living”). The campaigners have created a petition calling for May’s resignation (with over 21,000 signatures thus far) and are asking supporters to email David Cameron and their local MP. You can find out more on their website or Facebook page.

Meanwhile, May’s junior equalities minister, Lib Dem Lynne Featherstone, has spoken out against the macho political culture and criticised the new coalition cabinet for being too “pale and male”. Featherstone has a better record on gay rights, voted to keep the current abortion time limit and is a vocal supporter of trans rights. I think a promotion could be in order (though she might want to learn a bit about disablist language first, having stated that any “sane” woman would be deterred from a career in politics).

Comments From You

Jenny // Posted 16 May 2010 at 5:11 pm

Signed and forwarded to others.

Theresa May’s appointment was such a disappointment, as it seemed to indicate a complete lack of commitment to issues of equality. Whatever I think of Theresa May’s politics in general (and in general, I’m not a fan), she is just blatantly not the right person for the post, and doesn’t even have a background in the area.

Lisa // Posted 16 May 2010 at 5:33 pm

This is disgusting! I have signed the petition…

And Lynne Featherstone is my MP… I am so proud :D

raf // Posted 16 May 2010 at 9:27 pm

@Jenny: and who in your opinion would be “the right person for the post”?

starsandscars // Posted 17 May 2010 at 7:52 am

Signed.

I think she would be much more suited to the post of “Minister For Inequality” !

SeanH // Posted 17 May 2010 at 10:55 am

As far as I can see, Theresa May was actually absent from the vote on Section 28: http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?mpn=Theresa_May&mpc=Maidenhead&house=commons&dmp=826&display=allvotes

She’s still got a shocking record. And notice the disvaluing of the position: she’s also Home Secretary! One would have thought that being Home Secretary would be a full-time job – I suppose the Tories think that Women and Equalities isn’t a big deal, something May can do on the weekends when she’s not too busy. More of a hobby than anything else. Or one of those ceremonial sinecures, like Serjeant-At-Arms.

Kez // Posted 17 May 2010 at 11:02 am

Signed and forwarded.

I notice someone has now started a counter petition http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/theresa-may-to-stay-in-post-of-equalities-minister.html?utm_medium=RSS&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Latest+UK which has a grand total so far of… 5 signatures.

Kath // Posted 17 May 2010 at 9:21 pm

Laura, what word would you use instead of sane?

Laura // Posted 17 May 2010 at 9:43 pm

‘Sensible’, maybe. I did search for a post on the use of ‘sane’ and ‘insane’ as I know I’ve read some really good stuff on this in the past, but couldn’t find one. Disabled Feminists have a great series on other disablist language (they use the term ‘ableist’, UK activists tend to use ‘disablist’):

http://disabledfeminists.com/category/ableist-word-profile/

Hannah // Posted 17 May 2010 at 10:35 pm

SeanH, good to see your correction. However, as I pointed out on one of the other posts about the new government, Harriet Harman was Minister for Women and Equality at the same time as having two other jobs. Everyone proceeded to ignore me there and rant about it anyway, but it would be nice if people would get their facts right so that we don’t give anyone the chance to say that equality activists are stupid and overly sensitive.

Having other roles at the same time as being MWE is not unique to the Conservatives and there are plenty of much more problematic things about May’s appointment, as the campaign against her shows.

Harry // Posted 18 May 2010 at 4:51 pm

Theresa May tries to rehabilitate herself?

Sara // Posted 18 May 2010 at 5:57 pm

Does it really matter who is appointed equalities minister uder a Tory government?

Kate // Posted 19 May 2010 at 11:33 am

Hannah, Harriet Harman was never Home Secretary. It is one of the great offices of state and not one you would ever expect to see coupled with another position. Plus, it’s not unreasonable to think that there will often be a conflict of interest between what the Home Office demands and what the equalities minister should be championing. It’s setting up one of the positions for a fall combining them like this.

Part of me suspects that May liked her position as shadow equalities minister and fought to retain it, but I think it was the wrong call.

Joe K // Posted 19 May 2010 at 3:45 pm

But… the shoooooes!!

Kate // Posted 20 May 2010 at 12:16 pm

OK, so how’s our new equality minister going to react to the simply outrageous news that the Home Office wants to extend anonymity to defendants in rape cases?!

Sabre // Posted 21 May 2010 at 7:09 pm

Anyone see the BBC Question Time this week when May said she’d changed her mind on these issues?

Robert Chinnery // Posted 23 May 2010 at 2:54 pm

Sack Theresa May following her homophobic voting record on gay equality.

Nathaniel Adam Tobias Coleman // Posted 24 May 2010 at 12:50 am

Theresa May remains unfit for the role of Minister for Women and Equalities.

Ian Tucker criticises the Facebook petition that continues to call for Theresa May to be removed from the role of Minister for Women and Equalities. (Cf. http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/may/23/theresa-may-gay-rights-facebook) He claims that “its reaction perhaps helps illustrate how you often get little respect for changing your mind”. On the contrary, there are three reasons why this petition quite rightly continues, in spite of her professed change of mind.

First, she changed her mind on gay adoption, and her professed reasons for doing so had nothing to do with a belief in equal gay rights. They had to do with the welfare of children in care. (Cf. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=peAmygbh7CQ) Why should this particular change of mind, for this particular reason, give us any cause to think that Theresa May now believes in equal gay rights?

Second, while I welcome the fact that, in 2004, she voted freely for civil partnerships, this is not evidence that she had, at that time, changed her mind on equal gay rights more generally. For, only a year prior, in 2003, she didn’t bother to turn up to vote for the repeal of Section 28, and, earlier in 2004, she didn’t bother to turn up to vote for the Gender Recognition Bill. Moreover, as recently as 2007, she didn’t bother to turn up to support the Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations Bill. Furthermore, in 2008, when she was given a free vote by her leader, she voted against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, thereby denying, to those same couples she had previously agreed could be civilly partnered, any rights of access to fertility treatment.

Third, at a moment when LGBTQ Malawians face 14 years imprisonment, LGBTQ Ugandans face the death penalty, and a lesbian Iranian asylum-seeker is about to be deported from Britain to face torture, the public perception of the Minister for Equalities will make or break our ability to push for equal gay rights around the world. Indeed, the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said as much to Eddie Mair on BBC Radio 4’s PM last Thursday: “if we are going to win over other countries to our own values, we have to increasingly inspire them with how we represent those values ourselves”.

Theresa May does not represent those values. She does not inspire them. Whenever the gauntlet of equal gay rights has been thrown down, Theresa May has invariably either run into hiding or paraded her homophobia. We need an inspirational champion of equal gay rights, not someone who begrudingly concedes them. Theresa May remains unfit for the role of Minister for Women and Equalities.

Rebecca // Posted 28 June 2010 at 11:48 am

I agree, she’s terrible, and I as far from a Tory as it gets- but hasn’t she done quite a bit to raise the status of equality issues within her party? I think she is commited to equality, but in a very conservative Conservative way. I don’t think you can get much better within the Conservatives. It would seem a better idea to have a Lib Dem in this post, but then, what leverage would they have within the Tory part of the coalition?

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