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

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

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Nicola Sturgeon could have considerable influence over David Cameron in a hung parliament  

General Election 2015: What if Cameron were to end up in hock to the SNP?

Steve Richards
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before