Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Will History Repeat Itself Tomorrow?

The UK goes to the voting booths in a general election again tomorrow only two years after the previous general election. At the 2015 election the UK voted in more openly lgbt politicians to a national parliament and government than any other country at any time. That number has increased by seven in the two years since. 

The following MPs have come out as lgbt since 2015, further consolidate the UK’s position.
            Hannah Bardell (Scottish National Party, SNP)
            Nick Gibb (Conservative)
            Justine Greening (Conservative)
            Nia Griffith (Labour)
            Mark Menzies (Conservative)
            David Mundell (Conservative)
            William Wragg (Conservative).
The illustration of Big Ben’s clock tower (left) was first used in my article “An Outing to Westminster” in 2015. Each square represents one elected Member of Parliament. The pink squares represent the openly lgbt MPs. I have updated it to include the seven more recent out MPs.
In 2015 there were 155 known openly lgbt candidates standing for election. Today there are 151. All of the 39 lgbt MPs who were elected in 2015 are standing for re-election tomorrow.
In 2015 there were four transgender candidates, none of whom were elected. This time there are seven.
Northern Ireland increases its lgbt candidates by 400%. That sounds great when written as a percentage, but only one lgbt candidate stood for election in 2015. Northern Ireland will also see a new party enter the lgbt political scene. The SDLP will field its first two openly gay candidates tomorrow.
The table below gives a visual comparison of the openly lgbt candidates from 2015 and 2017. One square represents one candidate. The section in the middle represents the candidates who were elected in 2015 and the seven MPs who came out since. Those seven candidates are represented with triangles.
The parties in the table are represented by the following letters:
CONS (Conservative)
LAB (Labour)
LIB DEM (Liberal Democrat)
SNP (Scottish National Party)
GRN (Green Party)
UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party)
PC (Plaid Cymru)
ALL (Alliance Party of Northern Ireland)
SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party).
Although there has been fewer incidents of openly homophobic campaigning amongst candidates this year there has been one notable lgbt candidate who pulled out of the election last moth. Jack Monroe, a prominent author and journalist who identifies as non-binary (there are two non-binary candidates still in the race for Westminster), withdrew because of death threats which caused great stress. Monroe was standing as a candidate for the National Health Action Party.
On a related election note, last Friday the Republic of Ireland joined Luxemburg in having an openly gay head of government, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who now joins a very exclusive group. Even though the UK leads the world on elected MPs there is no hint that there will be an openly lgbt Prime Minister in the foreseeable future.

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