Scott Roberts: Embarrassment for a charity lagging behind public opinion

Comment

Share
Related Topics

When Britain's largest gay rights charity is even at odds with Boris Johnson on the position of marriage equality, it knows it has a problem.

Two weeks ago, Ben Summerskill, the Chief Executive of Stonewall, threw a Molotov cocktail at the campaign for same-sex marriage. Rather than backing proposals – put forward by the Liberal Democrats – he warned they could potentially cost Britain "£5bn" over the course of 10 years.

Mr Summerskill's justification for the high figure stems from the fact that the policy would also open up civil partnerships to straight couples – currently only legally applicable to same-sex partners.

But for the head of Stonewall to make this argument days before members voted overwhelmingly to endorse the policy, has left many people unsurprisingly infuriated.

Steve Gilbert, the openly gay MP for Newquay and St Austell accused Mr Summerskill of "putting a price on equality".

Stonewall's position is made all the more confusing because the charity has publicly said that it is "consulting" its 20,000 members on whether or not to endorse gay marriage. Many also see Mr Summerskill's £5bn figure as a gift for homophobes looking for an excuse to curb gay rights.

Prominent figures in the community, including two of the charity's co-founders, Labour MEP Michael Cashman and Britain's leading openly gay actor, Sir Ian McKellen have criticised the charity's fears about cost.

Simon Hughes, the Lib Dems' Deputy Leader, also defended his party's gay marriage policy, saying Ben Summerskill's intervention had been "unhelpful" – while a Lib Dem press officer described the figure as "bogus".

It puts Stonewall in a deeply embarrassing position. As Peter Tatchell rightly points out, it is now the only main gay rights charity in Britain that has not joined the campaign for full marriage equality – that is despite growing political consensus from the Lib Dems, Labour, significant parts of the Conservative Party, and overwhelmingly the British people.

Maybe it is time Stonewall stopped stonewalling and joined the rest of us?

Scott Roberts is news editor for Gaydar radio

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: Class Teacher Required ASAP In Uminster

£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wimbledon, SW London

£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...

Recruitment Genius: Magento Front End Web Developer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Front End Web Developer is re...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

An all-female cast has been announced, and suddenly I am excited about Ghostbusters 3

Matthew James
Katie Price is due to divorce second husband Alex Reid today  

Lay off Katie Price – she’s entitled to state help for her disabled son

Rosie Millard
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore