Currie condemns 'pure prejudice'
Friday 10 May 1996
The interruption by the veteran left-winger Eddie Loyden as Nicholas Soames defended the status quo in last night's debate on homosexuals in the armed forces, encapsulated the hypocrisy the reformers see in the MoD's position.
Mr Soames, Minister of State for Defence and a former Hussars officer, argued that allowing gays in the military would undermine morale and damage operational effectiveness. The services, he said, should not be "bludgeoned out of the esprit de corps that has won every war that Britain has fought since 1812".
But Edwina Currie, the former Conservative minister, said in proposing the change that the ban was "based on prejudice - pure and simply - and as such it is offensive, impractical and expensive".
Mr Soames was supported by John Reid, a Labour defence spokesman, who said special relationships within a unit could weaken its effectiveness - "and in battle that may mean the loss of lives, as well as ... battles".
With Labour MPs granted a free vote on the issue, Mr Reid acknowledged that his view was at odds with his backbenchers.
Intervening, George Galloway, Labour MP for Glasgow Hillhead, said: "It is possible and acceptable to be a homosexual member of a war cabinet or to be a homosexual defence secretary, but it is not possible to be a homosexual private in the Royal Corps of Signallers. There's an inherent absurdity in that proposition."
Would a war cabinet including two homosexuals in a special relationship be less effective at waging a war, Mr Galloway wondered. But Dr Reid said the difference between a Secretary of State for Defence and a member of an Army unit was "that the defence secretary doesn't have to sleep every night with the Defence Procurement Minister or the Armed Forces Minister".
Tony Banks, Labour MP for Newham NW, raised the case of the three "subhuman" heterosexual soldiers who murdered a Danish tour guide in Cyprus. "They're the sort of people that bring shame to our armed forces, not those homosexual men that loyally serve their country, are ready to die for their country and yet are still treated abysmally by this House."
- 1 Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
- 2 Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
- 3 Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
- 4 German ethics council calls for incest between siblings to be legalised by Government
- 5 Fifty Shades of Grey author E.L James's Twitter Q&A didn't go exactly as planned
Michael Douglas regrets 'embarrassing' Catherine Zeta-Jones with oral sex comments
Kim Jong-un shows off airport designed by architect he likely had executed
Tunisia hotel attack: Locals form 'human shield' to protect hotel from gunman Seifeddine Rezgui
Ex-Scientologist Carmen Llwyelyn blasts 'cult' and her treatment after divorce with Jason Lee
Tunisian builder has been hailed a hero after knocking gunman to the ground with roof tiles
The moment a Queen's Guard soldier lost it and drew his gun at annoying tourist
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Extend Right To Buy to tenants of private landlords, Labour's Jeremy Corbyn says
David Cameron struck double blow in his hopes to win Britain a new EU deal
Pentagon accuses Russia of 'playing with fire' over nuclear threats towards Nato
£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...
£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading and innovative con...