The Leicester South by-election has turned dirty. A leaflet purporting to be from the Liberal Democrats and featuring a picture of two men kissing has been distributed in an Asian area of the city. The materials, which campaign organisers have confirmed as fake, are clearly an attempt to inflame anti-gay sentiment in the largely Muslim Spinney Hills area.

The leaflet [full size] features a version of the party’s equality policies as channelled by the Daily Mail. If the lack of an imprint (text required by electoral law) or contact details doesn’t raise suspicions, the text erroneously describe former Treasury Secretary David Laws and Simon Hughes as front benchers:

“We will force all schools to teach homosexuality as normal … Our front bench team Simon Hughes and David Laws are committed homosexuals, while Nick Clegg was recently voted by readers of Pink Times as the sexiest party leader.”

The operation to whip up anti-gay sentiment echoes a similar incident during the 2004 Leicester South by-election, which was won by now out-of-favour Liberal Democrat Parmjit Singh Gill. Party HQ told Scrapbook:

“Some of this leaflet is completely true and we are very proud of our record in championing gay rights. However, this a fake leaflet maliciously designed to incite hatred. It is disgusting attempt to provoke hate during the last days of a political campaign. It has no place in politics and it has no place in society.”

For once in a considerable time we agree.

  1. “As Liberal Democrats we are also pledged to ensure that 20 per cent of our members are from sexual minorities.”

    What a load of rot! How liberal would it be to tell someone interested in joining “sorry, we’d rather you were gay”? No more liberal than saying “sorry, we’d rather you were straight”. I hope the idiot who wrote that leaflet is found and charged with breaching electoral law because of the lack of imprint.

    That said, I don’t mind that the truth gets out that we as a party have an excellent record on gay rights. And maybe there are some people in the areas the leaflet was sent to who would find that heartening rather than disgusting?

  2. yes, nowhere does it mention that “LABOUR CAN’T WIN HERE”

    Plus, one could hardly describe Simon Hughes and David Laws as committed homosexuals.

  3. Mediocredave: This reflects very poorly on whichever unscrupulous bastard thought it was a good idea to produce this leaflet. I hope they are found.

  4. The Lib Dems are clear that we want marriage equality, including civil partnerships for opposite-gender couples. Marriage isn’t a “gay” issue – it impacts hugely on bi and trans people too. I wouldn’t expect to see reference to “gay marriage” in a Lib Dem leaflet.

    But then, the Lib Dems are the only major party committed to marriage equality, and have the best historical record on supporting LGBT issues.

  5. Mediocredave: I don’t think it reflects badly on the people of Leicester at all. It refects badly on those who choose to see the leaflet as a reason NOT to vote for the party, or are outraged by it but there are people like that everywhere you go. It doesn’t mean the entire population of leicester will base their votes on whether or not the Lib Dems are homaphobic enough for them. To be honest, although it was a despicable thing to do it is quite clever – using peoples fear to gain votes or take away votes. ingenius. If Lib Dem act fast they could use it to gain votes too. play the woe is me card.

  6. Anybody have any idea who the perps were? Quite an important element of the story…

    jamesup – “One could hardly describe Simon Hughes and David Laws as committed homosexuals.”

    How exactly does ‘one’ measure how committed ‘one’ is to homosexuality?
    Leather chaps – thats 10 points…. Dont have Wizard of Oz on DVD? Sorry mate, your hearts not really in it…

  7. The spelling of “legalized” has raised an eyebrow or two here on the other side of the pond.

  8. So – did they find the little toerag who put out that (tenth-rate) smear? I hate the yellow tories, but that sort of thing has no place

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