Theresa May appoints Justice Secretary opposed to LGBT rights who said 'marriage is for procreation of children'

Appointment comes amid concern as Prime Minister negotiates with socially conservative DUP to prop up her minority Government

Rachel Roberts
Tuesday 13 June 2017 04:07
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David Lidington will serve as the new Justice Secretary following the Cabinet reshuffle
David Lidington will serve as the new Justice Secretary following the Cabinet reshuffle

New Justice Secretary David Lidington has consistently opposed LGBT rights including gay marriage and has voted in favour of repealing the Human Rights Act.

Prime Minister Theresa May replaced Liz Truss with the MP for Aylesbury during her cabinet reshuffle, following the Conservatives’ disastrous performance in the general election. He will also hold the office of Lord Chancellor.

But the 60-year-old's record shows he has voted against gay rights since the 1990s.

Mr Lidington takes a traditional view of marriage and was one of just 47 MPs to vote against the civil partnerships bill in 2004, which other MPs who opposed gay marriage for religious reasons were happy to vote for.

According to the website, They Work For You, Mr Lidington twice voted against allowing same-sex couples to marry in 2013.

He also voted against an amendment to the Adoption and Children Bill to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

An Anglican, he told his local newspaper, The Bucks Herald, that the purpose of marriage was “not only to provide mutual love and commitment but also for the procreation and care of children.”

Between 1998 and 1999, he also voted three times against reducing the age of consent for gay sex from 18 to 16 to bring it in line with the law for heterosexual sex.

Mr Lidington also voted to maintain a “ban on the promotion of homosexuality in schools” – not teaching children that some people are gay.

On other matters of equality, Mr Lidington voted against making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of caste.

He also voted to remove the duty on the Commission for Equality and Human Rights to work to support the development of a society where people’s ability to achieve their potential is not limited by prejudice or discrimination.

As Justice Secretary Mr Lidington, who is not a lawyer and has no legal background, will be responsible for overseeing the judiciary, the court system and prisons and probation in England and Wales.

The Justice Secretary also oversees the UK Supreme Court and judicial appointments by the Crown.

Defenders of the Human Rights Act will be concerned that Mr Lidington voted in favour of repealing it just last year. He also voted in favour of restricting the scope of legal aid and limiting fees paid to solicitors in no-win no-fee cases.

He has been the Tory MP for Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire since 1992 but retained a relatively low profile, serving as a shadow minister of the environment and of Northern Ireland during the Blair and Brown years.

Under David Cameron, he was the country’s longest-serving Minister for Europe and campaigned to remain in the EU. He was appointed Leader of the House of Commons by Ms May when she became Prime Minister.

His predecessor, Liz Truss, the first woman to hold the job, lasted just 11 months having come under fire for her weak response following media attacks on High Court judges during the Article 50 High Court Hearing which saw them branded “enemies of the people”.

Following the announcement of his appointment, Mr Lidington said he was “pleased and honoured.”

In a statement, he said: “Democracy and freedom are built on the rule of law, and are protected by a strong and independent judiciary. I look forward to taking my Oath as Lord Chancellor, and to working with the Lord Chief Justice and his fellow judges in the months ahead, to ensure that justice is fairly administered and robustly defended.”

Mr Lidington’s socially conservative views could line up well with those of the Democratic Unionist Party, which is currently in talks with senior Tories about an agreement which would keep Theresa May's minority government in power.

The Northern Irish party's 10 parliamentary seats would give the prime minister a working majority of three on a "confidence and supply" basis.

But it has gained a reputation for its strong and controversial views on a number of social issues. It opposes same-sex marriage and is anti-abortion - with abortion remaining illegal in Northern Ireland, except in specific medical cases.

The new intake following the general election sees a record 45 out LGBT MPs in the House of Commons – seven per cent of the total.

Tories including the party’s leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, have warned against allowing the DUP to influence social policy in any deal brokered to prop up the Government, although issues such as abortion and gay marriage are devolved.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Pink News newspaper: "LGBT rights are human rights. They must not be sold out by Theresa May and the Conservatives as they try to cling to power with the DUP.”

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