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Voting records reveal how British party leaders really act on LGBT+ rights

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What do the leaders standing in the UK General Election next week really think about LGBT+ equality?

We’ve looked at their House of Commons voting records to find out.

Conservative leader Boris Johnson has the worst voting record on LGBT+ rights of the candidates to be the next Prime Minister.

Johnson has two votes against the community to just three in favour. He has also missed many opportunities to support LGBT+ people, being absent from 11 votes, the most of any leader.

By contrast, both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson have consistently voted for equality.

Unsurprisingly, the DUP’s Nigel Dodds, is the worst of the Westminster leaders overall. He boasts a clearly homophobic voting record.

Obviously, some of the party leaders have been MPs for longer. Therefore, they have had more chance to show a pro or anti-LGBT+ performance in the House of Commons.

So when you look at the overall scores, it is the number of votes for us, versus the number against or abstentions which counts.

Some of the votes we’ve charted date back more than two decades. But the issues were brought bang up to date this year. MPs seized the opportunity to make same-sex marriage legal in Northern Ireland, just as they are in the the rest of the UK, after a six year wait.

Britain will go to the polls next Thursday in an election which experts say is still close to call. But before you vote for them, you can check if they will vote for you.

Conservatives: Boris Johnson

Current UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has tended to be absent for most LGBT+ rights votes in the UK Parliament.

Most recently, he missed the votes that finally gave same-sex marriage equality to Northern Ireland this year. Fortunately the bill passed without him.

  • For: 3
  • Against: 2
  • Absent: 11

Democratic Unionist Party: Nigel Dodds

While Arlene Foster is leader of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, she is not an MP. It is Nigel Dodds, the deputy leader, who leads the DUP group in the Commons.

Dodds has voted consistently against LGBT+ equality.

His one exception, when he voted in favor, may help some marriages with one trans partner. In 2004 he supported a vote to allow mixed-sex marriages which become a same-sex marriage to stay valid, provided neither of the couple object.

But he voted consistently against both same-sex marriages and civil partnerships. Just this year, he voted against same-sex marriages for Northern Ireland, although he was defeated.

  • For: 1
  • Against: 16
  • Absent: 6

Green Party: Caroline Lucas

Caroline Lucas is no longer the leader of the Green Party (a post she held from 2016 to 2018). But she is currently the party’s only MP. And she is a solid supporter of LGBT+ rights in parliament.

In particular she voted for marriage equality in England and Wales and, more recently, for same-sex marriage to be extended to Northern Ireland.

  • For: 9
  • Against: 0
  • Absent: 0

The Independent Group for Change: Anna Soubry

Anna Soubry is the leader of the new party, The Independent Group for Change. But she has been an MP since 2010 and repeatedly voted for LGBT+ equality.

Her only significant absence from a vote came this year when she missed a vote on extending marriage equality to Northern Ireland. But she previously voted repeatedly for same-sex marriage.

  • For: 8
  • Against: 0
  • Absent: 1

Labour: Jeremy Corbyn

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has the longest voting record to examine as he is the longest-standing MP of the current party leaders.

And Corbyn has consistently voted for LGBT+ equality. Among the important votes he helped get through is the equalisation of the age of consent at 16, civil partnership and marriage equality. This year, he voted for same-sex marriage to be extended to Northern Ireland.

  • For: 25
  • Against: 0
  • Absent: 4

Liberal Democrats: Jo Swinson

Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson has also been a consistent supporter of LGBT+ rights in Parliament.

Swinson’s only absences have been on relatively minor issues. But on the big subjects, including same-sex marraige and the Equality Act, she has backed LGBT+ equality.

  • For: 9
  • Against: 0
  • Absent: 3

Plaid Cymru: Liz Saville Roberts

Liz Saville Roberts is the leader of the Welsh nationalist party, Plaid Cymru, in Westminster. Adam Price is the party’s leader and sits in the Welsh Assembly – he is also the first openly gay leader of a major UK political party.

Saville Roberts has only been in the UK Parliament since 2015. But this year she did vote for marriage equality in Northern Ireland.

  • For: 2
  • Against: 0
  • Absent: 0

Scottish National Party: Ian Blackford

Ian Blackford leads the SNP group in the UK Parliament, while the party’s leader is Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.

Like Saville Roberts, Blackford only became an MP in 2015. But, importantly, he did vote for same-sex marriage in this year’s crucial vote.

  • For: 1
  • Against: 0
  • Absent: 1

Other parties and independents

Of the other ‘major’ parties standing in the election, neither UKIP nor The Brexit Party currently have seats in the UK Parliament.

Northern Irish party Sinn Fein do have MPs but they do not take part in votes in Westminster, so have no voting record.

Currently the remaining seats in the House of Commons are taken by independents.

Information compiled from TheyWorkForYou.com and PublicWhip.org.uk.

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Author: Tris Reid-Smith