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To recognise Lynne Featherstone's crucial role in creating the equal marriage bill, and explain their reasonings for ignoring the Conservatives past homophobia.

272
Supporters

On the 6th of August 2015, David Cameron was awarded the highest commendation from De Montfort University. This award was presented in 10 Downing Street by students and staff from the University and Students’ Union, including our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dominic Shellard, elected members from our SU, and past/present students.

David Cameron was presented with the award in light of the recent legislation to provide same-sex marriage for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples in England and Wales. This was awarded to David Cameron despite there being no consultation with the elected LGBT representative to the Students’ Union, the LGBT Society, or any general student forum.

The LGBT Society committee and elected Representative both oppose this award.

The award is opposed on the basis of the following;

1)    A lack of discussion with the elected LGBT Representative, LGBT Society, or wider student body.

a)    De Montfort University (DMU) represents over 20,000 students, each with their own distinct political and social views. The representative body of the students at DMU, De Montfort Students’ Union (DSU), has a duty to accurately represent the views of the student body on the matter of LGBT rights. This may be expressed via the Executive Team, or through the elected LGBT representative.

b)    During the event in question, the attendance of two members of the Executive Team indicated DSU’s support, and hence the support of the student body. This was without any discussion with students at DMU.

i)      Whilst we recognise that there was only short notice in regards to the executives knowing the motives of the trip and them attending, they would have been better able to represent their students had they received notice of the nature of matter earlier. Their attendance at said event was therefore misleading.

c)    A lack of consultation with the Elected LGBT Representative about the ceremony.

i)      The LGBT Representative is the elected representative to DSU on behalf of the LGBT community of DMU, and serves as the main voice for those students to DSU and University Management.

ii)     The LGBT Representative was not contacted about the ceremony at any point, learning about the event in question second hand through the LGBT Society after it had taken place. This is a clear failure in communication.

d)    The LGBT society was not consulted at any point in the decision making process which led to the award.

i)      The lack of consultation infers to the public that the LGBT Society supports this award.

ii)     Whilst two members of the society attended, they were not informed prior that there was any political agenda behind the event, meaning they were coerced into endorsing a decision they did not personally agree with.

2)    Disagreement on the criteria of which David Cameron was awarded the Companionship in regards to LGBT issues.

a)    Whilst David Cameron was the leader of the coalition during the passing of the Same-Sex Marriage Act, we feel it is unfair for David Cameron to be the focal point of this achievement.  Same-Sex marriage was not on the 2010 Conservative manifesto[1], therefore, it is suffice to say that the act was equally brought into fruition by the efforts of the Liberal Democrats, in particular, the Equalities Minister at that time, Lynne Featherstone.

b)    In addition, it is important to note that David Cameron had, in the past, opposed LGBT rights. This included voting against the repeal of Section 28.[2]

c)    Economic policies put in place during the last government disadvantages LGBT youths. This includes cuts to funding for various LGBT charities.[3]

d)    Asylum Seekers coming to the UK have to prove their sexuality to the authorities in order to gain asylum. We feel that this is obtrusive and degrading to any LGBT person entering the UK.[4]

e)    Whilst David Cameron may be personally pro-LGBT in recent times, as the leader of the Conservatives, we believe he should hold some degree of responsibility for his party. This is in regards to a recent vote at the European Parliament, where both Conservative and UKIP MEPs voted against the ‘EU strategy for equality between women and men post 2015’, which proposed better protections and rights for women and LGBT peoples across the EU.[5]

f)     In regards to cabinet appointments, David Cameron has supported the appointment of MPs who have publicly stated their opposition to same-sex marriage, such as Nicky Morgan to the office of Equalities Minister,[6] hence effectively giving validation to the views that same-sex marriages are inherently different to conventional marriage.

3)    Disagreement on the criteria of which David Cameron was awarded the Companionship in regards to issues that concern students and/or universities.

a)    The following are key areas of discontent expressed on social media (Facebook/Twitter) from current and alumni students in regards to why David Cameron is underserving of the honour due to his impact on higher education.

i)      During David Cameron’s time as Prime Minister, we have seen university tuition fees rise to £9000 per year, despite it being initially predicted that the £9000 fees would only be charged by a minority of institutions.

ii)     It was recently announced that maintenance grants would be scrapped, meaning that thousands of students who will be studying at DMU in the coming years will be leaving with even more debt than their predecessors.

iii)    The Conservative party recently considered cutting the Disabled Students Allowance. DMU has one of the largest proportion of disabled students in the country, therefore this would have a huge and irreversible impact on higher education and has left many students in receipt of this allowance fearful of their future income.

 

As a resolution to this statement, the signatories would like the following:

-        An explanation from De Montfort University as to why students were not consulted prior to the presentation of the award.

o   The heart of a university is its students, past, present and future.

o   The negative public reaction to this event therefore reflects on the students at DMU, both part of our society and those who are not.

o   The Society and Representative both feel that had there been proper consultation, the award would not only have been better received by the public, but would have gone to a person truly deserving of such an honour.

-        An explanation from DMU as to why David Cameron was deemed worthy of the award for his work on the Equal Marriage Bill despite the points raised.

o   Whilst the official response from DMU cites the award as being apolitical, it is difficult to understand how, as the award recognises efforts which are inherently political in kind.

o   It is a well-established opinion that in these times of austerity, students and LGBT persons are taking more than their fair share of cuts and closures of key organisations which provide crucial support to those in need.

o   Given that this companionship honours those “who have done outstanding work to benefit the educational, cultural or economic life of the nation,”[7] we would like an explanation as to how this award was given to David Cameron given his poor track record regarding both education and the economy.



[1] https://www.conservatives.com/~/media/files/activist%20centre/press%20and%20policy/manifestos/manifesto2010
[2] http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2009/jul/02/david-cameron-gay-pride-apology
[3] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/sep/03/lesbian-gay-transgender-community-groups-funding-crisis-cuts
[4] http://www.theguardian.com/global/commentisfree/2015/mar/05/gay-asylum-seekers-lesbians-uk
[5] https://humanism.org.uk/2015/06/09/european-parliament-passes-new-strategy-for-equality-between-women-and-men/
[6] http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/15/equalities-minister-voted-against-gay-marriage-nicky-morgan
[7] http://www.dmu.ac.uk/about-dmu/news/2015/august/prime-minister-awarded-dmus-highest-honour-for-his-fight-for-equal-marriage.aspx

This petition was delivered to:
  • Dominic Shellard VC of DeMontfort University


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