Wednesday, 31 December 2014

My Predictions for 2014 - How did I do?

It is that time of year once again to dust of my crystal ball and try and work out that is going to happen over the next twelve months.

1. An Olympic medalist will make a statement/protest about LGBT rights live on the Olympic Broadcaster. This will be the reason why we were right to let the athletes attend the Games at least one of them will make a protest and it will be the LGBT communities 1968 Black Power moment.

No medalist did make a statement or protest but Dutch slopestyle snow boarder Cheryl Maas did raise her gloves with images of a rainbow and unicorn to the camera after her qualification runs.
Earlier this month pairs figure skating silver medalist Canada's Eric Radford came out as gay, although other medaling and champion male figure skaters have come out as gay none have like Eric done it during the height of their career. But this all means 0 points

2. After the 400 bomb alerts, some of them viable, in Northern Ireland in 2013 one of the ones in 2014 will lead to a fatality.

There were no fatal bomb attacks in Northern Ireland this year, thankfully I score 0 points.
3. Mark Cavendish will win stages in three of the British Isles capitals this year. 

Not a great year for the Manx Missile in Grand Tours this year. He wasn't selected by Omega Pharma-Quickstep for the Giro start in Belfast, which ruled out wins there and in Dublin. Then before the Tour de France even arrived in London he had crashed out in the sprint for the win on Stage 1 into Harrogate. So 0 points

4. There will be a coup against Kim Jong-un.

Unless we are counting the film The Interview it would appear that if anything Kim Jong-un created a coup against Hollywood. 0 points

5. Olympians Katherine Grainger and Louis Smith will announce their retirements. 

In March Louis was first to answer that question. He actually returned to competitive gymnastics and appeared in Glasgow at the Commonwealth Games and is ready to step up in Parallel Bars if required and maybe even Rings if push comes to shove ahead of trying to make the team for Rio.
It took Grainger slightly longer to come to her decision but on 23rd September the deadline GB rowing had set her if she wanted to be considered for selection for Rio, she reported for training for the first time since the Olympics. While it is good to see them both now back training with the GB squads it means 0 points on this prediction.

6. Britain will win three or more medals in the Winter Olympics. 

Well with Gold for Lizzy Yarnold in the women's skeleton, Silver for the men's curling team, bronze for the women's curling team and Jenny Jones in Snowboarder Slopestyle that makes 4 and 1 point

7. A DUP elected representative will actually speak/vote positively about an LGBT issue. 

Couldn't be further wrong on this what the year actually brought is the least private private members bill with the support of the First Minister and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment at the launch looking to append a conscience clause only into the sexual orientation regulations of the Equality Act. Am tempted to award myself negative points for being so wrong on this. As resounding 0 points

8. Sammy Wilson will spend thousands of tax-payers money defending a court challenge by an same-sex couple who oppose their UK marriage being down graded to a civil partnership. 

This has not happened yet, but it is rumoured to be in progress, we wait and see what Sammy's successor Simon Hamilton does. 0 points for now and we shall see what Simon Hamiliton, Sammy's replacement does.

9.With Haass talks failing to reach an agreement on flags Northern Ireland descends into further acts of civil disobedience.

Well Twadell protests are still going on but the civil disobedience didn't really maintain its intensity. But we have talks again this Christmas which failed to settle parades and flags once more. 0 points

10. England lose their first two group games in the World Cup in Brazil and are out before they face Costa Rica.

I was right just didn't expect it to be Costa Rica who were already guaranteed to be through before the last set of games. But anyhow it was 1 point

11. Scotland vote to stay in the UK. My prediction of the result 38% Yes, 62% No to the question that is put. Turnout will be under 50%.

OK they did vote to stay. My prediction of the result ended up being 7% off and turnout was far greater than anything I had seen. But it is the headline that counts and for that 1 point

12. As a result of the above Alex Salmond faces a l eadership challenge from Nicola Sturgeon and John Mason in the Autumn and steps aside. 

Well he stepped down before there was a challenge, and Nicola was uncontested for the leadership. I think I'll only claim ½ point

13. David Cameron is told by the EU that he cannot keep restricting free access to Romanians and Bulgarians, so he attempts to call an immediate referendum on EU membership. 

Well yeah David has been saying this about all EU immigrants. But they have not yet sprung the referendum on us. 0 points

14. As Parliament rises for the summer after months of failing to get his actual agenda through Parliament David Cameron announces he will resign after his party elect a successor. Immediately Zac Goldsmith resigns his seat and Boris Johnson stands for Richmond Park. But in the ensuing by election Lib Dem Robin Meltzer defeats Boris and his leadership aspirations are over.

Boris is deciding to avoid Robin Meltzer, but he is seeking to return to Westminster in May so his leadership challenge is kind of live. I'm taking ½ point here too.

So in total I appear to have scored a less than impressive 4 points but then I did take some stabs in the dark.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The cost of the next 12 days of Christmas 2014

Those wonderful people at PNC bank have yet again published their Price Index for the Twelve Days of Christmas and the news is good for those on a budget as the increase in cost of the traditional 12 gifts is the smallest since the crash in the Price Index of 2002.

The overall index is up 1.0% on last years prices with the biggest increase being the the geese a-laying. Six of them will now cost $360 up 71.4% on the $210 relative bargin of last year.

Remaining unchanged on last year are the turtle doves at $125, calling birds at $599.96, gold rings $750, swans $7,000, milking maids $58, dancing ladies $7552.84, pipers $2635.20 and drummers $2854.80.

Those leaping Lords however are now charging  $5348.24 a 2% increase on the $5243.37 of 2013. French hens are now $181 up a whopping 10% on their cost of $165 for the three of them last Christmas.

And a partridge in a pear tree will now set you back $207.68 which is 3.8% more than in 2013 when there were a cent less than $200. This was due both to an increase in partridge food costs and shipping for the tree.

Of course the milking maids on their minimum wage will be up in arms about the Lords claiming an improve Christmas Price Index increase in their wages while they are subject to a pay freeze.

Monday, 22 December 2014

So Ed what about the LGBT Christians who feel marginalised?

Ed Miliband in his interview with Premier Christian Radio this week said:

"I want to say to people who feel that [marginalised] I'm sorry they feel that. 
"Part of being a tolerant society and the kind of society I believe in is that people of all faiths and none don't feel marginalised. 
 "Now that doesn't mean there aren't going to be disagreements, for example on equal marriage, but I think it's really important that Christians don't feel that. 
 "That they feel, not just comfortable in their faith, but comfortable that their faith is respected in our country.

"I think it's something you've got to work at and I think the only answer is dialogue and to listen." 

 But what about those of us who are LGBT Christians? Those who are open and either accepted or ostracised from their church, and those who are sitting in a closet in their pews.

Recently here in Northern Ireland we are hearing a lot about a so-called "conscience clause" but as far as equal (or same-sex) marriage goes there is a built-in conscience clause for people of faith. I should know as the wording "that wish to do so" came in a conversation in the early hours of the morning with Kieran Leach as we discussed how to deal with this in the motion to go before Scottish Liberal Democrat conference.

It was the phrase that was to allow those faith groups, including Christian ones that wanted to to carry out marriages of partners of the same sex, while at the same time not forcing others to do so. But just because a nation decides to allow people of the same-sex to marry in civil marriage and faith marriage where that has been allowed by the faith group, doesn't mean that people faith is not respected. Indeed that faith is still protected under the Equality Act, something that does come out of being a tolerant society.

But the question at times is where is the tolerant church, within that society?

Some churches, some denominations claim they are welcoming to LGBT people. But they place expectations and restrictions on them that nobody else is expected to met to feel accepted, and expectations and restrictions that too many LGBT members are bound to fail. Of course now it is possible (with the exception of Northern Ireland) for LGBT people to abstain from sex before marriage, as marriage is now possible for same-sex couples. But apparently even after that commitment to marriage that is not the point in some church rhetoric.

Some want that same-sex couple to be celibate. Some want them to break up that union. So the question is where is the love, where is the tolerance? Where are those churches' refusal to accept those that they themselves marginalise? And where is Ed Miliband's message to those LGBT people within the church who feel marginalised? Not just during this year but for many years past and still seemingly many more to come.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Can the DUP answer a simple question?

Yesterday on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show (about 34:30) Paul Givan, the author of the conscience clause bill, was asked a rather simple question.

"Do the DUP still want to make gay sex illegal?"

He did all he could to squirm out of answering it, saying he was dealing in the real world, even saying it was irrelevant to his conscience clause. He said his party didn't want to go back 20 years, although his conscience clause does go some way back removing some of the protections established here only 8 years ago.

But it is a relevant question, there have been slips through the years. Sammy Wilson, then the Minister for Finance and Personnel on 1 Oct 2012 said:

"I do not agree with the Civil Partnership Act 2004. As Mr Allister pointed out, that was the toe in the door and a means for pushing the boundaries even further in a direction that I, and the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland, do no wish them to be pushed as fas as changes in society are concerned."

It is hard to determine if the later Sexual Orientaion Regualtions to the Equality Act were part of this pushing the boundaries as these comments did come in the first Equal Marriage debate in the Assembly.

Today we have Edwin "Keep the Blood Ban" Poots trying to defend his party to claims of bigotry from Stephen Fry. Saying:

"While the debate takes place we can keep putting out a message that this isn't about an attack on people's rights, it's actually a defence of people's rights.
"I think that is part of the problem – every time someone says something it is put out there we are taking rights away from people but that's not what it's about."

There is therefore concern that I cannot recall one incidence of a DUP elected representative actually standing up and speaking in favour of any LGBT equality issue. By that I don't mean saying something like "the law says" in making a statement but actually saying "I or my party support the right of LGBT people to...". I also do not recall (and I have checked through Hansard both at Westminster and Stormont) a single DUP vote in favour of LGBT legislation.

There is a pattern of behaviour from the DUP of which Mr Givan's bill is just the latest manifestation, that at every step they have opposed LGBT equality. Whether the decriminalisation, civil partnerships, equality act provisions, blood ban, adoption, marriage.

So therefore a very relevant question for the DUP to answer is "Does the DUP still want to recriminalise gay sex?"

Because if so their conscience clause in the words of Sammy Wilson above is just a toe in the door and a means for pushing the boundaries even further in a direction that the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland would have a conscience objection to if they were to know the end desire.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Today could have been the day I became married

It is not beyond the realm of possibility that today could have been the day that I got married.

While I was over in Scotland there was a serious relationship with another man the talk did get towards the stage of should we look towards a civil partnership. In the end our lives took over and we ended up not having enough time for each other and drifting apart, on this occasion it actually wasn't me in an election year that led to the lack of time.

So it is possible that in some alternative universe he and I could today be converting our Scottish civil partnership into a marriage. It would seem appropriate for someone who campaigned to get equal marriage as a policy for the Scottish Liberal Democrats including the conversion of CPs to do so on the first day. As it is I am sitting here in Northern Ireland single and knowing that my friends here who are in civil partnerships will not be able to convert them. Worse I know that all those recently converted CPs into marriages, and those in England and Wales already and those from Scotland from 15 days time who were never in a CP but married will find themselves in a civil partnership if they come over here.

The fight for equal marriage in the UK is not yet complete.

First the recognition of same sex marriage is still not being recognised by the politicians that represent about half the electorate in Northern Ireland. It is almost as if protestant, unionist and loyalist LGBT people do not exist. Tell that to Julie-Anne Corr.

But then we do have to expand it so that humanists can have a tailor made wedding ceremony to fit them if they desire, rather than the bland heavily regulated and scripted prescribed civil ceremony that town halls offer.

We need to deal with the issues facing Transgender people, ending the spousal veto, restoring lost years from the forced dissolution of marriages and civil partnerships before transitioning was allowed to take place.

There is also the fact that civil partnerships remain and make equality skewed. If we are to keep them we need to open them up to mixed sex couples who do not want to have a marriage for whatever reason, but have the protections and rights under laws that other long term committed relationships have both in live and death.

Today's news in Scotland is welcome and I look forward to the first marriages without conversion on Hogmaney. But there is still work to do and some in this great country of ours to make all things equal.

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Equal Marriage was never just about gay rights

Apparently number 10 Downing Street are about to ignore overwhelming support to a public consultation and block opening the right to carry out marriage to humanist celebrants in England and Wales.

This would have brought England and Wales in line with Scotland where since 2005 humanists have been able to marry mixed sex couples. It would also put them at the forefront along with only USA and Australia in having humanists able to carry out marriage at all. It is a sign that those of use who were fighting for marriage equality were not only thinking about it as a gay rights issue.

Sadly the Conservatives in Westminster have already diluted some of the aspects that the Liberal Democrats recognised when we formed policy on marriage equality in 2010 with relation to transgender people, so this is an attack on the other thread of what we understood and vote for in relation to equal marriage.

You see equal marriage isn't only about allowing same-sex couples to marry. It was about those people who are transgender not having to divorce or dissolve an exisiting marriage or civil partnership and not losing the years that before now would not count while they transitioned if their partner remained with them. It is about expanding who can carry out marriages further than the established church, to other denominations and faiths to also include humanists in our society. It is also about opening civil partnerships to those of mixed gender who do not want a marriage but want civil protections for their partner in the event of their death, life, illness or creating new birth.

Equal marriage is not just a gay rights issue. It is an equality issue.

The Conservatives just think it is about ticking one box but actually it is deeper than that and I am proud to have been part of the process to seek to give that equality to others when it does not affect me directly.

Note: This is what differentiates a humanist wedding from a mere civil ceremony

Friday, 12 December 2014

Parties cancel trip to brewery

DUP and Sinn Féin are sorry to announce that the planned piss up at Hilden Brewery this weekend has had to be cancelled.

Find out more here.

Today's letter in the Newsletter

This morning the following letter of mine was published in the Newsletter.

I read Rev Kirkland's letter (11 December) with dismay. He claims it is right to bring balance to an unbalanced provision with the conscience clause.

The Sexual Orientation regulations within the Equality Act in 2006 were the means to bring that balance to a then unbalanced provision. This conscience clause is step back to how things were for LGBT people in Northern Ireland before that time. It was the reason I and many other LGBT people left Northern Ireland as soon as we were able as adults to find more tolerance in Britain.

However, this conscience clause uses some pretty strong language and some pretty open interpretation of three key words. It states:

"Nothing in these regulations shall make it unlawful to restrict provision of goods, facilities and avoid endorsing, promoting or facilitating behaviour or beliefs which conflict with the strong held religious convictions."

I not that this is added solely to the Sexual Orientation Regulations and not the Equality Act as a whole. So matters of conscience that the bible mentions far more than same-sex relationships are clearly not a matter of conscience that people of faith want to restrict provision to. This therefore makes it only an anti-LGBT change to the Equality Act.

But what is meant by endorsing, promoting and facilitating those beliefs and behaviour?

Part of most people's behaviour is to go out and enjoy a meal in a restaurant. Are a same-sex couple enjoying a romantic dinner to be turned away by restauranteurs for they are endorsing same-sex romance?

If I walk into a store wearing a Pride T-shirt could I be refused service as the owner would not want to be seen endorsing Pride and the LGBT community?

Could a Christian landlord throw an LGBT person or couple out from their flat as he does not want to facilitate what he thinks is happening under his roof, while he legally cannot do the same to an unmarried couple without just cause?

This is not about the conscience of those of faith, as some of them are actually supportive of LGBT people, this is blatant direct discrimination that actually removes the balance in the Equality Act.

It is giving people of faith the right to come up with a reason to refuse one group protected under the act, that is LGBT people, goods, services and facilities with full protection under the law. 

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Correspondence with Gordon Dunne

I wrote to my MLA Gordon Dunne after his question in the Assembly this week. It is somewhat of a shock that I actually heard back so promptly, this is an MLA who has failed to answer me on a whole number of previous correspondence. I do not think I am breaching any confidence by publishing his full response:

"Your comments are noted!"

Yes there is an explanation mark at the end of his short reply so I am taking that to be a terse reply.

For the record here is the email I wrote to him.

Dear Gordon,
I was rather disappointed in your question during topical questions to OFMDFM yesterday.
Firstly the Equality Commission have to operate independently of political interference from any Executive Department or the Assembly as a whole, as they may have to make decisions on actions from within the Assembly. Therefore you were quite rightly told that this is the case.
On the matter of legal proceedings these have to be based on the law as it stands at the moment and the time of the incident in question. Proceedings cannot be halted while any Government is in the process of changing the law. 
But there is no Assembly Bill to change the law, there is a private member's bill which is at the consultation stage. Has yet to be assess for an equality audit under the conditions of Section 75 of the Northern Ireland Act or be voted on in the chamber.
I know that the history of consultation on matters that concern LGBT isn't great, the first on a sexual orientation strategy occurred in 2006 under direct rule and we are still waiting for the imminent publication of the actual strategy and action plan.
In hindsight, it might have helped if at some point in the last 8 years such a strategy and action plan had actually been published to supplement the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regualations (Northern Ireland) 2006. It may well have be able to help the Equality Commission to determine where the regulations stood on the expression of something promoting a topical political discussion and people of faith running a business for commercial purposes.
I have read the consultation document on the conscience clause with all its leading questions and narrative. I'm also rather shocked at how badly drafted it appears to be, relating commercial enterprise to regulation 16 which relates directly to religious bodies, rather than regulation 5 which relates to goods, facilities and services. I shall be making a formal response in due course.
However, I am wondering if the wording of your question is an indication of shift in DUP policy and practice. Is your party trying to stall members of the LGBT community seeking recourse through the courts by introducing legislation; claiming such governmental proceedings should have precedence over legal action?
As with my points above:
(a) legal proceedings should be free from political interference(b) legal proceedings must be based on present law, not hypothetical changes in future(c) legal proceedings must be timely and not subject to delays caused by drawn out legislative process.
Therefore I hope this is not the case of a DUP strategy. It is interference in legal proceedings and like the conscience clause is not about freedom of conscience but about the right of some to find ways and means to act homophobically with the protection of the law.
I hope that you do read this and will actually take time to respond.
Yours Sincerely
Stephen Glenn 

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Gordon Dunne yesterday in Stormont

Yesterday in Stormont one of my MLAs for North Down Gordon Dunne (DUP) asked the following question to OFMDFM:

Mr Dunne asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister whether they believe that, given the launch today of a private Member’s Bill to include a conscience clause, the Equality Commission should now withdraw legal action against Ashers Bakery pending the outcome of the legislative process. (AQT 1861/11-15)
The response seeing as it was the Deputy First Minister answering the questions (although he deferred to his junior minister was actually better than if it had been left to the unionist side of OFMDFM I suspect.
Mr M McGuinness: With your permission, Mr Principal Deputy Speaker, junior Minister McCann will answer this question.
Ms J McCann: I thank the Member for his question. I am aware that some discussions took place between the Equality Commission and the bakery prior to the civil case being taken. The main issue is the extent to which suppliers of goods and services can refuse service on the grounds of sexual orientation, religious beliefs or political opinion. I think that the civil case will determine whether any discrimination has taken place.
Mr Dunne: I thank the junior Minister for her answer. Does she agree that the Equality Commission should withdraw its legal action pending against Ashers Bakery at this time?
Ms J McCann: It is not up to OFDMFM to agree or disagree with the Equality Commission. It is its own body and it has an independent role to advance fairness and equality for all. It is also responsible for implementing legislation on all those cases and challenging discrimination. We have to leave it to the Equality Commission because, at the end of the day, that will be where it will see whether discrimination happened. I am sure that the Equality Commission will have taken whatever measures it could have before entering into that case.

The point is that no matter what anybody's political persuasion the Equality Commission has to be allowed to operate independently as it is often testing the Assembly's own adherence to equality. Plus they have to act on the law as it stands at the moment.

Indeed surely the Assembly which has taken over 8 years in some consultations and still no action on activity cannot delay the legal process. But does this mean that this consultation and possibly never enacted Bill are a new stalling tactic that the DUP are using to prevent LGBT people from getting a determination in law if they feel their rights have been violated. If so, this is a new low even for the DUP and proves that the Conscience Clause is nothing of the sort but a get at LGBT people by a different means.

Snowing out #LGBT #sport

Well there is snow in the air and the winter sports season is upon us once more, or course earlier in the year we had the Winter Olympics in Sochi under the anti-LGBT administration of Russia. At the time I pointed out the few LGB Winter Olympians that were present.

However, one we didn't know about actually won a medal.

Radford with partner Meagan Duhamel in Sochi
Canadian pairs skater Eric Radford (right) has recently come out as gay, or in his words the ultimate pairs boy as there is no danger of him forming an off-ice relationship with his partner. He told Out magazine:

"My concern was that I would be known as 'the gay athlete' if I came out at the Olympics, rather than 'Eric the medalling figure skater who happens to be gay'. And I felt uncomfortable with that title."
The guy is a strong competitor, during the short programme of the 2011 World he finished a routine with blood pouring from his nose after his partner Meagan Duhamel's elbow coming in contact with him. This was from here descent from a twist the first element in the routine. Despite his nose being broken he took part the following day in the free programme and the pair finished 7th.  He and Duhamel have apparently been practising a quad thrown Salchow to unleash this year to improve on their bronze medal in the last two World Championships.

His coming out adds a silver to the medal tally of team LGB from Sochi adding to the 2 golds (one for team) and 3 silvers of Ireen Wüst (NED) in speed skating.

Meanwhile elsewhere in the world of Winter Sport Australia have added a gay man to their bobsleigh team. Rugby player Simon Dunn is currently in Calgary training with the upcoming season and hoping to make the team for 2018 in South Korea.

He told SameSame:

"I love competing in bobsleigh. The adrenaline rush. Using my strengths from rugby and excelling in a different sport. I love representing my country. And I'm also proud of the fact that I'm the first out gay man in the sport to do so!"

He has even been spotted post pictures of himself in his skin suit (see left). Though I think it would be best if he did it up when competing not just to save the poor guy from an awful chill but also to enhance the aerodynamics.

Of course the cross over from running events to bobsleigh is not new as many teams search other sports for the explosive athletes that can give the push off the start blocks that are so important for sliding events.

Paul Givan's Conscience Clause

My first reaction to Paul Givan's Conscience Clause as someone who has drafted amendments to party policy is that he doesn't even know how to amend the existing regulations. Most of what he is proposing relates to provision of goods, facilities and services (which is regulation 5 of the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006). Instead he places his amendments under regulation 16 which is organisations relating to faith or belief.

So let us that a look at what he is proposing.

  • deletions
  • additions
  • original
  • notes
He is making paragraph 8

(8) This Subject to paragraph (9), this regulation shall not apply where an organisation —

(a)makes provision of a kind referred to in regulation 5[goods, facilities and services]; or

(b)makes provision of a kind referred to in regulation 12[public authorities]
on behalf of a public authority under the terms of a contract for provision of that kind made between that authority and an organisation referred to in paragraph (1).

 (9) Paragraph 8 does not apply to a voluntary adoption agency or fostering agency that
(a) is an organisation of the kind referred to in paragraph (1); or (b) acts on behalf of such an organisation
Paragraph 1 mentioned in (9) (a)
16.  (1)  Subject to paragraphs (2) [where sole purpose is commercial, or in relations to regulations 9,10, 11 {all related to education}] and (8) [see above for the circular nature of this] this regulation applies to an organisation the purpose of which is —
(a)to practice a religion or belief;
(b)to advance a religion or belief;
(c)to teach the practice or principles of a religion or belief;
(d)to enable persons of a religion or belief to receive any benefit, or to engage in any activity, within the framework of that religion or belief.

The after Regulation 16 he wants to insert

Businesses: exception based on religious belief


(1) This regulation applies to a person (“A”) whose sole or main purpose is commercial or anyone acting on his behalf or under his auspices.
(2) Nothing in these Regulations shall make it unlawful  
(a) to restrict the provision of goods, facilities and services; or
(b) to restrict the use or disposal of premises, 
so as to avoid endorsing, promoting or facilitating behaviour or beliefs which conflict with the strongly held religious convictions of A or, as the case may be, those holding the controlling interest in A.
(3) For the purposes of paragraph (2)(b), “disposal” shall not include disposal of an estate in premises by way of sale where the estate being disposed of is—
(a) the estate in fee simple absolute in possession; or
(b) the entire estate in the premises in respect of which A has power of disposal.
 Now there a number of worrying things.

Let us not forget that even faith based commercial enterprises were not allowed under regulation 16 to have been exempt from equality legislation. But from the wording of this commercial enterprises on behave of belief or faith based organisations are not exempt from equality legislation yet Paul Givan is letting bussiness which are not faith based to become exempt.

What can a person, or even just a majority share holder in a business do.

  • Nothing in these regulations shall make it unlawful to restrict the provision of good, facilites and services.
Hang on a second? Nothing shall make it unlawful to restrict the provision of goods, facilities and services. Paul Givan has said that this would not mean that a shopkeeper could refuse to sell apples to a LGBT person. But this wording appears to mean that there is nothing to prevent him from doing so. Goods, facilities and services covers everything that any business.

There is a caveat so as to avoid endorsing, promoting or facilitating behaviour or beliefs which conflict with the strongly held religious convictions.

Now I do have concerns here.

Endorsement was a word that was used in the Ashers case yet only from the McArthurs family who run the company. Nobody who ever eats a cake thinks that the people who make it actually endorse it. But there does become an issue. What is one of the major papers in Northern Ireland has a majority control by someone with deeply held religious beliefs. Would they be within their rights not to cover news about LGBT events, or comments and letters in support of LGBT equality? What if that paper operated online, would they be able to censor debate if it was against their principles as they didn't want to be seen to be endorsing what is said?

Most media does say that the views and comments that they publish are not necessarily those of the publication, but is this a get out for people like them.

Does my wearing of one of my many Pride t-shirts constitute promotion? Does my wearing a rainbow flag badge as some wear a union flag on their label count as promotion? Could I be prevented from eating in a restaurant or be served in a shop under this regulation of promotion if I am seen entering such a store. This all sounds rather Russian and worrying talking about promotion so glibly.

What if a high profile LGBT activist were to turn up for a service from someone. Like me who unlike some of the anonymous homophobes my name would clearly come up as someone who is a high profile LGBT activist through the letters I write, the speeches I have made, my blog and social media. Would serving me potentially with my boyfriend present be considered promotion. Especially if I am openly carrying my Liberal Democrat folder with all its LGBT badges on it.

What about wearing a red ribbon in support of HIV?even though this is not a gay disease, what if the business owner perceives it to be? 

What is meant by facilitating behaviour? If a same sex couple want to go out for a meal together, just the two of them, is serving them at a table counted as facilitating? Could you having booked a table be turned away, even if you do not kiss, cuddle or hold hands on the premises. What about a hotel? Yes we are back to the hotel situation which has already been judged by a high court as being a public service you have to offer the same provision for everyone. What about a landlord? Could a Christian landlord turn out tenants if he thought that his premises were facilitating same-sex activity? This is dangerous ground.

  • Nothing in these regulations shall make it unlawful to restrict the use or disposal of premises.

Also later on in 2 (b) how are you going to determine the disposal of someone's estate. I mean could this mean that certain houses will not be available to be bought by same-sex couples or an LGBT individual if someone has died and stipulates no gays.

But more worrying is the use restriction. As above any space that is not a public space may be off limits to an LGBT couple or group if the owner deems that their very presence is somehow and endorsement, promotion or facilitation of behaviour or beliefs.

Now I terribly sorry to tell my Givan this. My existence is an endorsement that being gay and Northern Irish is fine, there is nothing wrong with that. Sometimes I have to talk to others over a coffee or a meal about issues that they and I are facing, this may well be promotion of that same belief. I also go on dates with boyfriends. Now in winter time I don't to hang around in car parks or parks, besides I'm 45 and enjoy good food, a variety of drinks, the arts and sport. So I will probably want a boyfriend who enjoys a lot of the same things and most of these take place indoors. So I'm going to have to use premises owned by other people.

One final thing. You will notice that the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations only came into being in 2006. We have only for 8 years as LGBT people in Northern Ireland had some protection as to accessing of goods and services. Before that anybody could turn us away for any reason, which makes it all the more disgraceful that Mr Givan has worded this so poorly that all manner of consequences can come from it. Earlier today he was talking about specific cases and tight guidelines, but this is not what he has delivered. 

Monday, 8 December 2014

Fisking Paul Givan

This morning Paul Givan MLA wrote in The Newsletter about his reasons for introducing a Private Members Bill allowing a conscience clause. It has been a while since I did a good line by line Fisking of something but this is just so full of holes I think it deserves the full treatment, my comments as ever are in

The decision by the Equality Commission to launch legal action against Ashers Bakery for refusing to print a slogan in support of gay marriage made headlines across the UK and beyond Whereas if the cake had been made there would have been no headlines just a cake, no self righteous purchasing of Ashers goods boosting the McArthurs profits. It has also highlighted the fact that some equality legislation is having an adverse effect nice little boost in profits don't forget on those with religious belief when it comes to the provision of goods and services.

The more recent case where the Catholic Church has had to end its relationship with an adoption services provider has caused further distress. Of course there is yet to be the Northern Ireland Children and Adoption Bill despite the final court ruling in December 2013, our last legislation on this issue was in 1987 and that still is in effect. So the church is actually ending its relationship before a change in legislation. A total of 89 Northern Irish children were adopted in the year 2013-14. Our average duration in care is 2 years 11 months in care compared to 2 yrs 5 mths in England and 2 yrs 4 Mths in Wales. Only 54% are placed for adoption within 12 months from best care decision being made compared with 74% for England. So it would seem even with Church support we have been failing the children who are most important in this decision in terms of time lag.

I believe that this is wrong and there should be legislation that strikes a balance between competing and at times conflicting rights We have this it is called the Equality Act. That is why I am consulting on a Private Member’s Bill as a remedy to this problem. There was consultation on a Sexual Orientation Strategy initially in 2006 which might have lead to guidelines to dealing with these conflicting rights. A second consultation on that was only held this Spring just for reference gerrymandering and procrastination on defining LGBT rights is part of the issue here.

Specifically what is required, and delivered by my Bill, is enhancing the sexual orientation goods and services legislation in order to protect religious service providers How is this enhancing if those of LGB sexual orientation are then denied access to goods and services by religious service provider? and those who want to access services in the context of a religious ethos The problem in Northern Ireland is too many service have different religious ethoses from schools to adoption services, however most high street concerns do not fall into this remit.

My Bill would mean that ‘reasonable accommodation’ would be made in certain tightly defined circumstances At present the Equality Commission case is to determine the rights or wrongs in certain defined situation. The problem is he appears to be tightly defining for certain religious beliefs to be those circumstances. . This would allow our society to make space for difference that encourages a tolerant society allowing people of faith equality of opportunity to contribute and participate fully in our community Can somebody tell me something that people of faith cannot contribute and participate in fully at present?.

It is important to highlight particular cases which would, and equally important, cases which would not be affected by the legislation I propose. I notice all of these are based on seven passages from the bible, but surely personal conscience on such issues should also apply to adulterers, or those living out of wedlock which have far more references in the text book on which this personal conscience is based. Do we need to ask why this is?

It would not mean that an evangelical grocer could refuse to sell apples to a gay man . Selling apples does not involve someone to endorse, promote or facilitate a same-sex relationship in violation of his or her faith identity so there is no conflict.

It would not mean that a Catholic photographer could refuse to take a photograph of recipes created by a bisexual chef. Taking such photographs again would not have the effect of endorsing, promoting or facilitating a same-sex relationship.

However, it would mean that a Muslim printer would not be required to print a book promoting same-sex relationships in violation of his faith identity. Similarly, it would mean that an evangelical photographer would not be required by law to choose between taking photographs of a civil partnership ceremony in violation of their deeply held beliefs or lose their livelihood. Yet at the same time his party is denying those of faith that want to and the state to not endorse such relationships and providing same sex marriages if they want to. His narrow definition of what people of faith want should not also at the same time infringe on what others want.

Given that the nature of faith is that it deals with higher loyalties to God Yes Jesus said give unto Ceasar that which is Ceasars so whoops! it is very likely that when confronted by such a choice many people would rather lose their livelihood than be pressured by the state into violating their faith identity.

By enhancing the law to make space for people of faith to provide services my Bill will respect the rights of service users who want to be able to continue to access services in the context of for example, an evangelical or Catholic faith ethos.

There is no equality for Catholics that want to access adoption services from their Church which will now be denied because it is more important to put the rights of same-sex couples accessing adoption services from everywhere than Catholics somewhere. Catholics can still access adoption services, I personally know of one Catholic couple who have two beautiful daughters through the normal adoption process without resorting to a Catholic only system.

Through this Bill I believe the Northern Ireland Assembly can strike the right balance by pushing equality legislation off balance and to a precipice and I strongly believe it is possible to navigate this difficult area much more effectively than is currently the case I refer the gentleman to the delay in producing a Sexual Orientation Strategy (see above). This Private Member’s Bill can contribute to creating a society that is tolerant and respectful by making reasonable accommodation for people to live their lives according to their conscience but only providing that conscience is based on a rather narrow faith based experience which is not inclusive of all of faith.

My problem with Paul Givan's comments

This morning Paul Givan MLA has issued his thoughts on his conscience clause in The Newsletter. Right in the middle of this I have a major issue.

"It is important to highlight particular cases which would, and equally important, cases which would not be affected by the legislation I propose.
"It would not mean that an evangelical grocer could refuse to sell apples to a gay man. Selling apples does not involve someone to endorse, promote or facilitate a same-sex relationship in violation of his or her faith identity so there is no conflict.
"It would not mean that a Catholic photographer could refuse to take a photograph of recipes created by a bisexual chef. Taking such photographs again would not have the effect of endorsing, promoting or facilitating a same-sex relationship.
"However, it would mean that a Muslim printer would not be required to print a book promoting same-sex relationships in violation of his faith identity. Similarly, it would mean that an evangelical photographer would not be required by law to choose between taking photographs of a civil partnership ceremony in violation of their deeply held beliefs or lose their livelihood.
"Given that the nature of faith is that it deals with higher loyalties to God it is very likely that when confronted by such a choice many people would rather lose their livelihood than be pressured by the state into violating their faith identity."

This passage is the crux of the matter. For a start he is assuming that all of faith are opposed to same-sex relationships, do not wish to celebrate civil partnerships or for that matter not carry out same-sex marriages. That is simply not the case and I have been to civil partnerships where people of faith have been present as family or friends of the couple. 

But the problem also is that by blocking the desires of these people to carry out these same-sex services in a place of worship, or for the state in Northern Ireland to not carry them out some people of faith are imposing their opinions and views on those of different religious opinion and those of none.

The centre of this entire argument is now clear. It is the fact that Paul Givan is making it possible to block out same sex relationships from Northern Irish society. Promoting it or formalising it in any way. If he wanting people to opt out of certain aspects of what it means to be LGBT maybe he should allow those who are LGBT to have what they fully want.

As I wrote yesterday we have been waiting since 2006 for the publication of a Sexual Orientation Strategy (there was finally the latest consultation on it this year). The DUP have been the party blocking the rights of same-sex and unmarried couples adopting, MSM giving blood and of course others in civic (and faith) society who want it the ability to have a same-sex marriage. If you are blocking other people's personal conscience on issues like this in a public sphere you cannot expect to have the right to allow people to even opt out of what is already there.

I may do a full Fisking or Fact Checking of his statements in the full statement later.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

When is an answer not an answer? #SexualOrientationStrategy

Earlier this year we finally had a consultation of Northern Ireland's sexual orientation strategy (SOS) but seem to have heard nothing since.

So I decided to see when was the first question to OFMDFM about it delivery. I think I have found it here on the 8 October 2007

Sexual Orientation Strategy  and Action Plan5. Dr Farry asked the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to detail what progress has been made towards presenting and launching the sexual orientation strategy and action plan.    (AQO 380/08)The First Minister: A consultation on the draft sexual orientation strategy and action plan was carried out during direct rule under the former Secretary of State Peter Hain. The draft strategy has yet to be considered by Ministers and the Executive.Dr Farry: I thank the First Minister for that answer, even though it was rather brief. Can he assure me that all Ministers are working in harmony on sexual orientation issues and that this draft strategy will be brought forward as soon as possible? Does he agree that sexual orientation issues need to be seen through the prism of good relations? Will consideration be given to placing sexual orientation issues within the wider remit of the shared future strategy and, in particular, the second triennial action plan?The First Minister: The First Minister and deputy First Minister have made it clear that the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister is totally committed to promoting equality and human rights and is completely opposed to any form of discrimination or harassment against any citizen.Mr Storey: Will the First Minister inform the House who approved the current funding package, and has any further funding been agreed?The First Minister: Mr Peter Hain approved the package; neither I nor my colleague across the way has since approved any funding.Mr McCartney: Does the First Minister agree that, in order to be effective, the draft sexual orientation strategy needs the full and total support of the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister?The First Minister: That is a matter for negotiation. I can say only that we have to face the facts that are before us, and the facts are that the money that is now being provided is based on the undertaking made by the then Secretary of State Peter Hain and that the draft strategy has yet to be considered by Ministers or the Executive.
Yet tomorrow one of the First Minister's party colleagues intends to lodge a Private Members Bill for consultation on introducing a conscience clause into equality legislation. When you bear in mind that Peter Hain left the Northern Ireland department on 27 June 2007 and it was he who started the talk of a sexual orientation strategy this shows the level of procrastination that the DUP have on dealing with sexual orientation.

Of course we are still in talks about the past, parades and symbols at the moment which is another procrastination from the time that powers were first devolved. Therefore the speed with which the DUP can dismantle something considering the length of time they fail to come to an agreement on building things for a truly shared future.

Later questions on this issue:

  • In June 2008 determined that the draft would be presented to ministers that Autumn
  • In February 2009 that a refreshed SOS would be presented to Ministers for consideration by early summer 2009
  • In May 2010 the needs analysis had yet to be carried out before presentation to OFMDFM
  • In September 2010 we were told that the recent Cohesion, Sharing and Integration indicated that ministers were committed to publishing the SOS 
  • In a verbal question that month we told it would not be published sooner than 2012
  • On 21 February 2011 the minister opened that he "was not aware of any significant delay in publication" despite most of the times scales above being missed
  • In October 2011 draft proposals were about to be made available to the OFMDFM committee for publication and public consultation in early 2012
  • In February 2012 it was confirmed that is would be published during that year
  • In June 2012 we were told that the draft SOS would be published in December 2012
  • In October 2012 December was replaces with the more vague "near future"
  • In January 2013 with no publication we were told they remained committed to publication (again)
  • In July 2013 when asked why it had failed to be published and when to expect it deadlines were not in the answer
  • In October 2013 a consultation document was under consideration at the departmenr
  • In January 2014 there was mention of a draft consultation document being prepared for public consultation
  • In February 2014 when asked about publication of SOS the Minister said he had asked officials to launch a public consultation on which to base the SOS
The development consultation document was finally published in March 2014, we are once again approaching the end of another year waiting the results of that consultation to form the basis of the draft Sexual Orientation Strategy and Action Plan.

On the 13 November Stewart Dickson tabled the seemingly annual question since 2007 "To ask the First Minister and deputy First Minister when the Sexual Orientation Strategy will be published." because we are still waiting for the actual strategy and action plan eight years on.

Paul Givan is going to put his Conscience Clause out to consultation after he lodges it tomorrow. Can you think he's be happy waiting over 8 years for something to come out of that initial consultation? Yet this is why the people he thinks people of faith need protecting from are still waiting to have their concerns properly addressed. 

It is time for the DUP to actually sort things out. Provide the Sexual Orientation Strategy. And the Race Strategy and Gender Strategy and all the things that link into Equality that they have been constantly procrastinating about since they took over the role of First Minister following the St Andrews Agreement. They need to do more than draw their salary they need to do things and not let things constantly get to a crisis point before they consider action and that often the wrong actions.

We need politicians who are not suffering from myopia but are far sighted enough to make plans and strategies for the future. When I word in DETI there was an Economic Strategy for the forthcoming 10 years called Strategy 2010. A subsequent strategy is now in place, but if DETI had taken 8 years to come up with a 10 year strategy there would be major questions asked.

So I'm asking one today. How come all the equality strategies have not being actioned expeditiously? 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Murphy's bakery is flour dilemma

This appeared in the Trumptonshire Times today.

This afternoon Mickey Murphy from Camberwick Green's only bakery went up to Windy Millers expecting to collect his latest supply of flour from the only mill in Trumptonshire.

However, after Fireman Cuthbert and his partner Private Lumley one of the boys at Pippen Fort had come in requesting a cake to support gay marriage which Mickey made for them without a quibble Mr Miller was up in arms. Miller a member of the DUP felt that it was against his personal conscience to supply flour for baking to people who wanted to get married in non-traditional ways. The announcement of the forthcoming marriage of Cuthbert and Lumley for which Murphy was going to be baking the cake may apparently be the last straw for Miller.

Windy Miller was spotted earlier this afternoon (see right) telling Murphy that he would not be providing him with any more flour. The Mayor had earlier passed a by-law for Trumptonshire that allowed people to avoid equality legislation if their conscience told them that what was being provided by them was going to support something they didn't agree with.

The Mayor said:

"It is not right that Fireman Cuthbert and Private Lumley can force their views on whoever they want in this village. We of course respect them for the jobs that they do, we have nothing against gays as such."

When asked about the refusal of the only mill in the council area failing to provide flour to the only baker the Mayor said:

"Mr Miller is a long established trade in this area. His is perfectly within his rights to decide who gets use of the flour that he mills. He doesn't want what he makes to go towards a cake for a same-sex marriage. As he is not certain that Mr Murphy will use flour from another provider he is perfectly within his rights to withold provision from his own stores."

Mr Murphy speaking from his bakery has said:

"I'm having a hard time obtaining flour from other mills at this time. There is a high demand for mince pies, Christmas cakes and puddings at this time and surplus flour is hard to come by. I doubt I will have sourced an alternative source by tomorrow. So I suspect that when the Lady Mayoress comes in for her regular bread purchase to make soldiers for the Mayor's boiled egg she will be must upset to find the shelves empty. It is a pity that a fireman and his soldier should put a dampener on the Mayor's breakfast but I cannot make bread out of nothing."

Two views on breastfeeding

Don't anyone say that LBC don't give airtime to diverse opinions. The fact that both Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage take part in a phone in on that channel each week allows those views an airing.

One subject that they both were questioned on this week was the case of Claridges asking a woman to cover up with a napkin while breastfeeding.

First up this week was the Liberal Democrat leader who said:

"We should create an environment where mums feel it is OK to breastfeed and we shouldn't somehow sweep it under the carpet. I think any mum listening who has breastfed in public would be spluttering with indignation at the implication that it is somehow an in-your-face thing to do in public. Mums all the time breastfeed in a discreet way in public that is not in any way offensive to other people whether it is two old men in their 80s or two young men who are 18."
Quite right too.

Therefore it was rather shocking to hear UKIP's leader today say:

"I'm not particularly bothered about it, I know a lot of people do feel very uncomfortable. This is just a matter of common sense, isn't it? I think that given than some people are very embarrassed by it, it isn't too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that's not openly ostentatious."
When asked if Claridge's were wrong he then said:

"Frankly, that's up to Claridge's. I think it should be. I very much take the view if you are running an establishment you should have rules, and be able to apply them."
For clarification he was asked just like some establishments ask you to wear a tie if you want to breastfeed you should go the ladies room or whatever. Farage then said:

"Or perhaps sit in the corner. It's not a matter I get particularly hung up about but I know particularly people of the older generation feel awkward and embarrassed by it."

Now personally I don't think breastfeeding is a showy display, designed to impress therefore I'm rather confused by how Nigel Farage thinks this is ostentatious unless he is envious of women's ability to produce milk. But surely the effect of getting up and leaving the party you are dining with to go and sit in the corner of what is still a public space to breastfeed is actually more ostentatious than doing it calmly with the child where you are sitting. After all parents will comfort a child at their seat (at least initially) should it start crying. Only if they feel it is becoming too raucous for other customers might they consider getting up to take the child outside until it calms down. Therefore to pick a child up and walk somewhere else in the restaurant is actually drawing more attention to the act that simply doing it where you sit.

All I want for Christmas is....

 This is Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Arizona. He is a man who it would seem has set himself up for a pretty busy advent season this year.


Well in his sermon on Sunday he said it was possible to cure the world of AIDS by Christmas. Here we were over 30 years after the outbreak of this disease and he apparently has the solution within 4 weeks. No wonder he is going to be busy.

He is going to have to produce his solution and distribute it to the 35 million people world wide living with HIV/AIDS world wide in a little over 25 days. Not to mention the 5,753 new cases who will be diagnosed every day during his quest.

But is he going to be handing out a vaccine and cure to those 35 million people of whom 3.2 million are aged less than 15? No.

His solution instead is to go out there and stone all the gay and bisexual men out there. Even my his own reckoning of 1.6% of the USA population being gay and 0.7% bi that is approximately 7,344,107 US citizens he would have to kill to eradicate the 2.3 million cases of HIV/AIDS in North America, Western and Central Europe. That is before he deals with the situation in Europe. And that is but the tip of the iceberg.

But in Sub-Saharan Africa with 24.7 millions cases and most of those countries cracking down on homosexuality hard finding 24.7 million gay and bisexual men is bound to be hard. Here of course the spread of HIV is largely through heterosexual intercourse, hence the large number of women infected and the large number who pass it on to their children as a result.

So merely getting rid of all the gay and bisexual men in the world would not be enough. He's also have to stone all the people who have had more than one sexual partner in their life just to be certain.

But the biggest task before he sets out to possibly kills probably over 50% of the world's population to be absolutely certain is one even taller order. However, it is one that I'm sure a Pastor whose church claims to be faithful the word would want to do. It is to obey the practical example of Jesus. When they brought an adulterous woman to Jesus wanting to stone her to death he responded to them "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone."

So I'll make a deal with Pastor Anderson. If he can find someone without sin to cast that first stone I will meet up with him. I'd like the local police to be present and a few television crews to witness his start of cleansing the world of AIDS. To see the effect that finding this righteous man stoning a gay man who is not living with HIV or AIDS will have on the 35 million who would still be living with HIV/AIDS.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

BREAKING - Former Liberal Party Leader Jeremy Thorpe died this morning

Jeremy Thorpe the leader of the Liberal Party from 1967-1976 passed away this morning according to the Breaking News header on the BBC website.

John Jeremy Thorpe was born  in 1929 the son of  John Henry Thorpe who had been Conservative MP for Manchester Rusholme and Ursula Norton-Griffiths, whose father Sir John Norton-Giffiths was the Conservative MP for Wednesbury until the end of WWI and then Wandsworth Central. However, while he was reading law at Trinity College, Oxford he broke with family tradition and became President of the Liberal Club.

He first stood for Parliament in 1952 for North Devon but failed to unseat the Conservative MP Christopher Peto. he stood again in the 1955 General Election when Peto stood down and halved the majority Peto's successor James Lindsey held. It was in 1959 that Jeremy finally won the seat with a whooping majority of 362. It was a seat he would win 5 more times before losing it in 1979 back to the Conservatives and Tony Speller, his biggest majority being the 11, 072 of the February 1974 election when he was leader of the Liberals.

But considering he was due to have faced trial for conspiracy to murder Norman Scott the week before the 1979 election, although he got a 2 week delay until after the poll, the chances of success must have been slim. Scott had claimed that he and Thorpe had had a homosexual affair from 1961- 63 when such acts were still illegal under UK law. An investigation into this was held by the party in 1971 which exonerated Thorpe. However, when he was being vetted as the possible best man for Anthony Armstrong-Jones wedding to Princess Margaret he was turned down due to homosexual tendencies. The accusations from Scott carried on even after his second marriage in 1973 to Marion, Countess of Harewood, whose first husband was a cousin of the Queen.

In October 1975 Scott's dog was shot by Andrew Newton while the two and the dog were out on the moors before turning to Scott and saying "It's your turn now". The heat was on Thorpe because of a history of allegations and threats with relation to Scott which culminated on his resignation as leader 10 May 1976. He was replaced by Jo Grimond whom he succeeded as caretaker before the election of David Steel as the new leader. On the 22 June 1979 six weeks after Margaret Thatcher had won the General Election that saw Thorpe not returned by the people of North Devon the jury ruled he and his co-accused not guilty of conspiracy.

The then Liberal leader David Steel commented on the verdict hoped Thorpe "after a suitable period of rest and recuperation ... find many avenues where his great talents may be used". Although acquitted the party felt he had not behaved well during the whole affair and refused to allow him to return to party politics. In 1982 he was appointed to Amnesty International as director of their British Section, but soon after he started to show signs of Parkinson's Disease that led to his eventual dropping out of public life in the mid 1980s.

After the merger of the Liberals and Social Democratic Party in 1988 he was made an Honourary President of the newly formed North Devon Liberal Democrat Association. In 1997 his appearance at the Liberal democrat conference led to a standing ovation and in 1999 he finally opened up about the trail in his political memoir In My Own Time.

Ursula his wife and companion for the last 40 years passed away in March this year. His son Rupert from his first marriage to Caroline Allpass, who died in a car crash in 1970, and his step-sons David Lascelles, 8th Earl of Harewood, James and Jeremy all survive him.

John Jeremy Thorpe Politician, former Liberal Party leader  29 April 1929 - 4 December 2014