U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has a long history of voting against LGBTQ rights. And now, she’s fighting to increase her power.
May recently made headlines for her motion to hold a general election on June 8. An overwhelming majority of MPs backed the move.
May claims her motion was to ensure “stability and certainty” during the Brexit process, as the United Kingdom pulls out of the European Union.
But others say that the motion is intended to increase the power of May’s Conservative party over the government, and kill off the influence of the more left-leaning Labour Party.
If it does, that could be bad news for queer Brits. Theresa May is a little more progressive these days, but she has a long history of fighting against LGBTQ rights. With no one to stand in her way, she could very well go backward.
Theresa May’s History on LGBTQ Rights
IB Times composed a list of May’s voting history on LGBTQ rights over the course of her political career. In the late ‘90s, May voted to keep the legal age of consent different for straight people and queer people:
1998: May voted against reducing the age of consent for homosexual acts from 18 to 16, which would have brought it in line with the age of consent for heterosexual acts.
1999: May voted against equal age of consent.
In the early 2000s, Theresa May voted against the repeal of a “no promo homo” law that forbade public officials from speaking positively about queer sexuality:
2000: May voted against the repeal of Section 28, introduced by the Thatcher government in the late 1980s. It prohibited local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality or gay “pretended family relationships” – and prevented councils from spending money on education materials allegedly used to promote an LGBT lifestyle.
2002: May voted against same-sex adoption. However, the Adoption and Children Act passed into law and came into effect at the end of 2005. For the first time it allowed unmarried couples – including same-sex couples – to apply for joint adoption.
2003: May missed a vote on repealing Section 28.
May seems to have softened a little bit toward gays in 2004. She voted in favor of civil partnerships for same-sex couples. But maybe she was just trying to throw the gays a bone so they’d stop asking for marriage equality.
Still, that same year she voted against the Gender Recognition Act, which allowed trans people to change their legal gender.
Later, May avoided voting on anti-discrimination legislation by skipping out on it:
2007: May was absent for a vote on Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations. It outlawed discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities, services and education on the grounds of sexual orientation.
She did, however, take time to make life harder for lesbians who want to have a baby:
2008: May voted in favour of a bill which said IVF rights should require a male model – which effectively discriminated against lesbian fertility rights.
May’s attitude softened a little around 2010, when she said she changed her mind on same-sex couples adopting. May voted in favor of same-sex marriage in 2013.
But was it a genuine change, or was it just political pragmatism — going along with the national mood to keep her career? If May gets the ultra-conservative parliament she wants, we’ll find out.