On Friday, January 9, the official “gay wing” of the Conservative Party circulated a press release regarding the Queer Youth Alliance’s stance on civil partnerships and attacking Alex Lambert, QYA’s Campaigns and Activism Officer.
The Queer Youth Alliance is appalled by the malice and numerous errors of fact contained within the release. Having successfully persuaded the Gay Conservatives to rectify some mistakes, QYA is now saddened to find further errors in the updated version. It has therefore become necessary to correct the public record, in light of which QYA notes that:
Alex Lambert is not, as was originally claimed, the leader of the Alliance; he occupies one of 12 seats on the Executive Committee. David Henry is the founder and current President of the Alliance.
QYA’s stance on the government’s civil partnership proposals has been clearly published and submitted to the Women and Equality Unit of the DTI in response to their public consultation. It is not, as implied by the Gay Conservatives, one of outright rejection – but rather one of deep concern regarding the long-term implications of creating separate systems for heterosexuals and homosexuals.
QYA continues to call for a single system for the recognition of partnerships, regardless of the nature of the relationship between the individuals concerned – a view that, contrary to the Gay Conservatives’ press release, has been echoed in the responses of numerous other organisations – including the Conservative Party themselves.
Rt Hon Oliver Letwin MP asked in an article for the Daily Telegraph: “We should bear in mind that such problems are not confined to gay couples. […] Why should the problems encountered by two cohabiting sisters, for example, who may be pledged to care for each other, not also be addressed?”
Extracts from letters written by Alex Lambert in a personal capacity to the Pink Paper were grossly misrepresented, with quotations removed from context incorrectly purporting to be an accurate representation of what was said.
In particular, the Gay Conservatives’ original press release says that: “[Alex Lambert] described gay people as ‘disease-ridden and promiscuous’ (Pink Paper, issue 820, 26 December 2003).”
Whereas, the full extract reads: “by relegating civil partnerships, [James Davenport, chairman of the Gay Conservatives] was promoting the stereotype of gay people being disease-ridden and promiscuous.”
The telephone call referenced in the final release took place between Gregory Justice, QYA’s Vice President, and James Davenport on January 9. The purpose of the call was to highlight the above errors – and the revised release is testiment to the Gay Conservatives’ acceptance of fault. At no time has any member of QYA’s Executive Committee moved to distance themselves or the organisation from Alex’s well-reasoned discussion.
In his closing remark, James Davenport calls for the resignation of Alex Lambert from the Queer Youth Alliance. The QYA Executive and membership has unanimously rejected this call and reiterates its wholehearted support for Alex’s ongoing hard work and invaluable contributions to the Alliance.
David Henry, President of the Queer Youth Alliance, commented: “QYA has been deeply shocked by the underhand nature of the Gay Conservatives’ public rants and I sincerely hope that this matter can be brought to a swift and amicable end.”