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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

The economics of the stock market is simple really: buy and hold

Ben Chu
Jeb Bush's campaign will emphasise both his conservative record as a former governor of Florida and his commitment to building a more inclusive Republican Party  

American democracy is up for sale, and it’s a warning to us all

Shirley Williams
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border