Theresa May is the next Prime Minister of the UK, the second woman to lead the country since Margaret Thatcher.
She is expected to be confirmed by the 1922 Committee shortly.
Andrea Leadsom dropped out of the leadership race after facing criticism for her views that gay people should not get married and implying May would not be a good Prime Minister as she is not a mother.
But does May support the LGBTI community?
The former Home Secretary has had a mixed record on LGBTI rights since becoming an MP in 1997.
Her early votes were largely against gay rights.
- 22 June 1998 – Voted no on equalizing the age of consent of gay sex to 16
- 4 November 2002 – Voted no on allowing gay couples to adopt
- 10 March 2003 – Absent on a vote on maintaining a ban on Section 28, the law that prohibited the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ in schools
- 25 May 2004 – Absent on vote to introduce the Gender Recognition Act, a law that gave several rights to transgender people
But in 2004, she started to slowly change her mind.
- 12 October 2004: Voted yes on civil partnerships
- 19 March 2007: Absent for vote on LGBTI rights part of the Equality Act
- 5 Feb 2013: Voted for same-sex marriage
As Home Secretary
May has faced severe criticism for her actions on dealing with LGBTI refugees as Home Secretary.
Edwin Sesange, from Uganda, heads the Africa Out and Proud Diamond Group. A large majority of his group are those who are in the process of seeking asylum or are refugees because of their sexuality or gender identity.
‘There have been so many poor decisions under her leadership [as Home Secretary],’ he told Gay Star News, noting how many people who told the truth about being LGBTI were deported to face violence, assaults and a possibility of decades in prison or a death sentence, as well as the extreme intrusive questions that led to many asylum seekers being forced to make homemade sex tapes in an attempt to prove who they are.
‘We have to keep working together to make sure we don’t get ill treatment from her leadership now she will be Prime Minister. Our call to her is to make sure the core of her leadership will be equality. I can’t foresee what she will want to do, but I call upon her to put pressure and to use her influence on the Commonwealth to support LGBTI rights.’
Human Rights Act
At the end of May, the new Prime Minister voted in favor of repealing the Human Rights Act.
The Human Rights Act helped to decriminalize homosexuality as well as lifting the bans on same-sex couples adopting in Northern Ireland. It granted tenancy rights to same-sex couples, allowed gay people to serve openly in the military and helped to equalize the age of consent.
When trans woman Christine Goodwin in 2002 appealed to the European Court of Human Rights after she could not draw a pension and could not marry a man, the Human Rights Act meant the UK denying her rights to a private life and live freely from discrimination. This case also led to the introduction of the Gender Recognition Act in 2004, a law as stated above that May abstained from voting on.
But however, in a statement prior to winning the leadership contest, May has reiterated her current views on LGBTI rights.
‘When I launched my campaign for the leadership I set out my belief in building a country that works for everyone. Central to that vision is a commitment to equality, and I will always stand up for the rights of LGBT people,’ she said.
‘A Conservative Government under my leadership would be unequivocally committed to supporting LGBT people, and continuing the vital task of tackling hate crime, homophobia and transphobia – both in the UK and around the world.
‘I firmly believe in an open, inclusive, One Nation agenda of social reform which will change our country for the better. That is what I would offer as Prime Minister.’
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