PROSPECTIVE parliamentary candidate for Stroud, David Drew has clarified his position on LGBTQ+ rights.
He has often come in for criticism because in 1998 he voted against reducing the homosexual age of consent to 16.
In a Facebook post he said: “Many different issues are coming up in this campaign, and one thing people have asked about are my views on LGBTQ+ rights.
“I’ve been saddened and surprised that some people might be confused about my stance and want to make it clear that I unequivocally support equality in all aspects for all people.
“Recently, in July, I voted for same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland.
“But going back further, in 2010, under the Labour government, I was a key member of the Equalities Bill Committee which delivered the ground-breaking Equalities Act, enshrining equal rights for the LGBTQ+ community and others into law for the first time.
“As MP I’ve worked hard to ensure adoptions for same-sex couples in Stroud constituency.
“I voted in support of the Civil Partnerships Bill and was not an MP at the time of the vote on same-sex marriage in England, if I had been I would have voted in favour, as I said at the time.
“Confusion sometimes arises from my vote, in 1998, against reducing the homosexual age of consent to 16.
“This was because I was arguing to raise the age of heterosexual and homosexual consent to an equal age of 17, as a universal entry age into adulthood.
“However I lost that argument and, given that I now also support voting at 16, I also support this as a universal age of consent.
“I also argued for more time for Catholic adoption agencies to change their procedures to include gay parents.
“All instances of homophobia are appalling, and I’ve seen first-hand through family experience the trauma it causes.
“I’ve spent my life fighting for equality for everyone including the LGBTQ+ community and believe in equality and respect for everyone.
“Sadly, there is still a way to go to tackle discrimination; nearly half of all trans young people have attempted suicide and nearly half of all LGBTQ+ young people experience bullying.
“That’s why the next Labour government will:
– Ensure all teachers are properly trained on issues LGBTQ+ young people face.
– Reform the Gender Recognition Act and the Equality Act to ensure they protect trans people.
– Ensure all health and social care workers know how to understand the specific needs of LGBT patients and service users.”