A tabloid journalist has claimed that British voters would have chosen to remain in the EU if the Prime Minister had not legislated for same-sex marriage.
Daily Mail columnist Dominic Lawson, who is the son of former Conservative chancellor and Brexit campaigner Nigel Lawson, made the stunning claim in an article yesterday, in which he argued that “the apparently unrelated matters” of EU withdrawal and same-sex marriage “are inextricably linked”.
He wrote: “If it were not for David Cameron’s decision to legalise marriage between people of the same sex – a measure I supported – Britain would not now be on her way out of the EU. It is now largely forgotten, but Cameron’s insistence on pushing through a Bill to legalise gay marriage — which eventually passed in 2013 — caused consternation within the Conservative Party.”
Lawson continued: “The proposal, which had not been in the Tories’ 2010 election manifesto, was vehemently opposed by about half of his parliamentary party – who happened also to be the most Eurosceptic – and appalled countless members of local Conservative associations. This was seized on by Nigel Farage. I had lunch with UKIP’s leader at that time and I recall two things above all from it: first, how disgusted he was that I did not want to have a drink before sitting down; and second, how gleeful he was at the way the gay marriage row was sending shire Tories in droves to switch to UKIP membership.”
The Mail journalist concluded his column by reflecting on David Cameron’s “emotional address outside No 10 on Friday”, during which the Prime Minister insisted that introducing the legislation for same-sex marriage had been one of his proudest achievements. But was Cameron, suggested Lawson, privately thinking ‘”If it hadn’t been for gay marriage, I would not now be facing this ruination”?
While it may be possible that the same-sex marriage debate pushed already right-leaning Conservatives towards Nigel Farage’s party, there is little evidence to suggest it had any role in determining their attitude towards EU membership. After all, the Prime Minister was unable to persuade 58% of Conservative supporters to support his case for Britain remaining in the EU.
UKIP leader Nigel Farage has previously stated that he does “not support same sex marriages all the while we’re under the auspices of the European court of human rights”, and in a televised debate last year said that migrants with HIV should be banned from entering Britain.
A poll conducted by Gay Star News suggested that 75% of LGBTI people support Britain’s continued membership of the EU.
The vote has resulted in political turmoil in addition to creating a backdrop of economic uncertainty against which decisions will be made and potential negotiations held. The result, coming at the end of a campaign in which Vote Leave prioritised the issue of immigration, is also feared to have contributed to a rise in hate crimes with an increase in reported instances of racist or homophobic attacks. Reported hate crime has risen by 57% following the vote.
Today, Gay Star News revealed that on Sunday night a group on Drury Lane, London, was singing “Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves. First we’ll get the Poles out, then the gays.”
An LGBTI rights activist, who asked to remain anonymous, told KaleidoScot that they felt Dominic Lawson was mistaken in his claim that same-sex marriage had any effect on the outcome of last week’s vote. They said: “The kind of right-wing Tories likely to be attracted to a party with less than progressive views on LGBTI rights are unlikely to be pro-Europeans. It seems an utterly absurd suggestion that marriage equality could not only lead directly to a decision to leave the EU, but also be indirectly responsible for the social division, economic crisis and political fall-out that has followed. On the surface of it, it’s another attempt to blame LGBTI people for everything. We’ve seen all this before.
They continued: “In the context of the reported increase in hate crime, which is very disturbing, to suggest such a cause seems not only wrong but also irresponsible at a time when calls for calm would be more appropriate. Those who feel a Leave vote entitles them to carry out hate crimes against the Polish and Muslim communities would in all probability not be too shy in extending their prejudices towards LGBTI people.”
Hate crime should always be reported. If you experience or witness a hate crime, please contact the police. Help and support can also be obtained from various organisations, for which information can be found on the Hate Crime Scotland website.