|The Liberal Democrats look set to play a vastly increased role in British politics after the forthcoming general election on May 6th. Who are they, and what is their stance on LGBT issues? The Liberal Democrats were founded in 1988 after the merger of two earlier parties, the SDP (Social Democrats) and Liberals, who had been in an earlier formal alliance for the last seven years before that. At the close of the last parliamentary session, they held sixty three seats in the House of Commons. They are social liberals, green on environmental policy issues, support a comprehensive welfare state and favour continued British participation within the European Union. In addition to the above, which defines them as a centre-left party, they also favour the introduction of the single transferable vote (STV) as an electoral reform option and the creation of a written constitution for the United Kingdom.
Since 1988, DELGA (Democrats for Lesbian and Gay [and Bisexual and Transgender] Action) has had an input into party policy. Liberal Democrat Party leader Nick Clegg supports the introduction of same-sex marriage proper, reform of the existing total ban on British gay male/MSM blood donation, LGBT asylum policy reform and other inclusive policy reforms. Like the Greens here, the Liberal Democrats proved to be a strong and reliable LGBT-inclusive voting bloc during the Blair and Brown administrations, when Labour abolished Clause 28, introduced age of consent equality at sixteen, passage of antidiscrimination laws, civil partnerships and adoption law reform. At present, the Liberal Democrats look set to form a coalition with Labour, although the latter may need to sacrifice current Prime Minister Gordon Brown. They have already been in coalition with Labour in the Welsh and Scottish Assemblies, and are also represented in the London Assembly and European Parliament. Given their strong advocacy of LGBT rights and constitutional and electoral reform, they are highly popular within British LGBT communities. Recommended: Liberal Democrats: http://www.libdems.org.uk
DELGA: http://www.delga.org.uk Johann Hari: "Love Me, I'm Liberal" Attitude 188 (February 2010): http://www.attitude.co.uk Roy Douglas: Liberals: A History of the Liberal and Liberal Democrat Parties: London: Hambledon and London: 2005. Andrew Russell and Russell Fieldhouse: Neither Left or Right? The Liberal Democrats and the Electorate: Manchester: Manchester University Press: 2006. Paul Whiteley et al: Third Force: The Liberal Democrats at the Grassroots: Oxford: Oxford University Press: 2006. Craig Young - 3rd May 2010