One of the ‘political’ highlights of summer for the last many years is the annual Pride march through town. Even when it has poured down it has failed to dampen the spirits and enthusiasm of the participants.
Part of the event is a delightful pageant and carnival. On the one hand the Police marching through the City in disciplined ranks led by the Chief Constable on the other a variety of people in extravagant fancy dress. The flags get waved, the drums get beaten and the booze gets drunk!
The other part is a serious one. In 2019, the last occasion on which we were able to march, there was a great speech about equality from Paul Bayes, the Bishop of Liverpool. This served to remind us that whilst it is a fun day it has a serious purpose. All over the world people get killed, tortured and humiliated because of their sexuality.
It seems to me that the last few years in this Country we have seen a small but noticeable increase in homophobia although much of this appears to have aimed at the trans community.
What is noticeable is that the proponents of the hateful behaviour are often the same as those who don’t like blacks, Muslims or any other minority. The racist nature of much of the Brexit debate has spilled over into a wider cesspit of discontent from a small but vocal minority in our population.
As a liberal who works as a Liberal Democrat, I believe that people should be able to practice their faith and their sexuality in any way that they want providing it does not create and adverse impact on others.
As a white heterosexual with no religious faith I want to live my life to the full. I can see absolutely no reason why any other group should be treated differently. I have friends of all faiths, colours and sexual persuasions. None of them have tried to impose their beliefs on me. They accept me for what I am as I accept them for what they are.
If we want to build a strong UK we need to build on the talents and skills of all our people. For too long our Country has been led by…. Well people like me. White middle-class people men who have assumed a right to rule because of their innate superiority. In my defence I would point that if I thought I had a right to real I wouldn’t be in the Lib Dems!!
We can see from the Eton led hoorah henrys just how dangerous this approach has been. They have led us into Brexit; into ill thought out policies about the virus; into antiquated ideas about education. They have created a society which separates the chavs from the chav nots.
This means that the intellectual capacity of minorities has not been used to the full. In fact, in the case of women they are not a minority but a majority. This means that as a society we do the wrong things and as an economy we are falling behind more advanced nations.
I think we need to move to a less competitive society. A society in which the key thoughts relate to family and community and to ensuring that the wealth that a community creates is mor evenly distributed. I think that this is a view which is held much more by women than by men. Perhaps this is the reason that they either cannot or do not wish to climb the greasy pole to the top of large organisation in the same numbers as aspiring men.
Again, Bishop Bayes is seeking to set a lead by championing within the C of E a new concept of marriage being about people who love each other and commit to each other regardless of gender.
That has, I suspect, led him into hot water with some in his Church but he is setting a strong moral lead. We must all do likewise. Too often we have stood aside when bad behaviour, thoughts and words are expressed because we have been afraid of the personal outcomes. If those who seek to restrain the dignity and talents of others are becoming more vocal then so must we and provide an effective challenge to the hate which is increasingly being spewed across our cities by a minority of louts.
About 30% of the Councils in England now have a female Chief Executive and a similar number have female chief finance officers. I can say that with reasonable certainty but I cannot tell you how many of those men and women who fill these crucial posts are gay.
In some ways that is good because they have got to their position on merit which is how every position should be filled. On the other it means I don’t know how many have not got to the top because there are no clear role models for them to emulate.
As a Lib Dem I will be proud to march again when we are able. To take part in the fun and frolics of Pride and, yes, have a couple of drinks as well. But I’ll never, ever forget the key words of our Constitution to which we commit when we join the Party,
“The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience and their right to develop their talents to the full”.
Noble aims which you could subscribe to by joining us at www.liverlibdems.org.uk.