Title: Stark Dichotomy: The SNP and Northern Ireland LGBT manifestos Credit: Craig Young Comment Monday 4th May 2015 - 12:35pm1430699700 Article: 16774 Rights
Given that it may hold the balance of power and go into coalition with Labour despite Ed Miliband's statements to the contrary, what does the Scottish Nationalist Party say about LGBT issues within its manifesto? And what about Northern Ireland's political parties? Once again, Attitude magazine has scooped most of its British competition. The Scottish Nationalist Party emphatically supported marriage equality in Scotland's devolved Parliament back in 2014, so we'll begin with a look at that manifesto first: “SNP MPs will also make the case for the establishment of a special envoy – a diplomatic post within the Foreign Office – to promote the rights of LGBTI people throughout the word, as an integral part of UK foreign policy.” However, it should be noted that Attitude contains an interview with the SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, and several SNP LGBTI election candidates in its latest UK issue. From the sublime to the bloody awful- and that means Northern Ireland's fundamentalist Democratic Unionist Party, former home to the late fundamentalist antigay, anti-abortion and anti-Catholic fundamentalist "Free Presbyterian" demagogue, Ian Paisley. The Democratic Unionist Party regime at Stormont means that Northern Ireland is now the only United Kingdom constituent nation that does not allow marriage equality, although it has been forced to back down on civil unions and adoption equality within the courts. Northern Ireland has eighteen constituencies, all elected by the Single Transferable Vote electoral system, and its parties could be involved in coalition negotiations. Predictably, as if to emphasise its backwardness, Northern Ireland's devolved Legislative Assembly, under DUP control, voted down the fourth and latest initiative to introduce marriage equality in Ulster (49-47), moved by Sinn Fein's Catriona Ruane, as was the previous attempt. The DUP condemned it as an 'election stunt,' but it is heartening that the latest measure faced diminished opposition in the assembly- the third attempt was torpedoed 51-43. The Democratic Unionist Party have no detailed LGBT policies in their manifesto. It is dominated by fundamentalist Protestant Christians and has opposed LGBT rights as parliamentary representatives at Westminister and as devolved Northern Ireland governing party at Stormont. Expect the worst. They would join a coalition with either the Conservatives or Labour, however and currently have eight seats. Sinn Fein are the Northern Ireland Catholic Republican Party. Their progressive nationalist manifesto encompasses opposition to all racism, sectarianism and homophobia, as well as equality for all children regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity, including comprehensive anti-bullying policies, opposing DUP attempts to enshrine service provider discrimination in Northern Irish law, trans-inclusive anti-discrimination laws, marriage equality for Northern Ireland, including LGBT-inclusive equality rights in the proposed Northern Ireland Bill of Rights. Sinn Fein have five seats but do not recognise the authority of the Westminister UK Parliament, so do not sit in the House of Commons. The Social Democratic and Labour Party is a small Northern Ireland social democratic party. Its manifesto states that it supports equality for all, including gender, ethnicity, national origin, religious belief, political opinion, age, class, marital status, sex and disability and sexual orientation, as well as people with or without dependents. Unfortunately, there's no mention of gender identity as a distinct antidiscrimination ground. It currently has three MPs. The Community Alliance are a 'cross-community' party with close links to the mainland Liberal Democrats. Like their Liberal Democrat counterparts, they have comprehensive LGBT-inclusive policies, including supporting marriage equality, opposing service provider discrimination 'reform', supporting inclusive adoption reform, supporting inclusive and comprehensive anti-bullying laws, blood donation reform, LGBT-sensitive public service audits and promotion of global LGBT rights. At present, the Community Alliance have a single MP at Westminster. The Ulster Unionist Party states that it supports inclusive antibullying policies. It has no Westminster MPs and has traditionally partnered with the Conservative Party. The best bet is the Scottish Nationalist Party, as well as Sinn Fein and the Community Alliance. Undeniably the worst, given its obnoxious fundamentalist origins and sectarian domination, is the Democratic Unionist Party. Recommended: Ben Kelly: "Same-sex marriage rejected for the fourth time in Northern Ireland" Attitude: Northern Ireland Parties LGBT Manifestos: Scottish Nationalist Party LGBT Manifestos: Craig Young - 4th May 2015    
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