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Did this Gay Teen become the U.K's Youngest Elected Official?

Reprinted from the Advocate – 

Meet the Gay Teen Who Could Be the U.K’s Youngest Elected Official

BY THOM SENZEE

MAY 07 2015 5:00 AM ET 

As if being just 18 weren’t enough of a challenge, Luke Holland of Birmingham decided to come out in the middle of his election campaign.

Image source: Facebook

Image source: Facebook

 

In some ways Luke Holland is just your average British teenager. But Holland is also an 18-year-old entrepreneur in Birmingham, England, who launched his own environmentally friendly cleaning company when he was just 17 and recently came out as gay despite living in what has been described as one of England’s more conservative regions.

That’s certainly courageous, but what’s newsworthy is that Holland came out in the middle of his political campaign as an independent candidate to be Birmingham’s Kings Heath and Mosley’s ward councillor. A ward councillor’s position is roughly equivalent to a city council member’s duties stateside.

If he wins today’s election, Holland will be the youngest elected official in the U.K.

Considered a serious candidate, Holland took time during the final hours of campaigning to answer a few questions via email for The Advocate. Find out what motivates this ambitious British teen, who happens to be gay, and why he won’t be a career politician — even if today’s election goes in his favor.

The Advocate: To be clear, did you come out during or before your election campaign?
Luke Holland: Yes, I came out during the election campaign, [but it] was nothing to do with the election, though. It was the right time for me in my mind.

How does being gay and out in an election campaign change things compared to being a straight candidate?
Not much, really. A few people will just not vote for you because you’re gay — [because] obviously being gay makes you so different?! That’s sadly the fact of life. You just ignore it and move on. At the end of the day, gay, straight, Muslim, Christian, etc., we are all human.

It sounds like your motivation to run is based largely on creating a more equitable local economy. Why is that important to you?
That’s not really one of my main reasons, to be honest. My main reason to stand was that I was fed up [with] the Independent line because no one represented me. I had enough, so I thought, What’s stopping me? Nothing! Let’s stand!

We understand you’ll be the youngest councillor elected to office in Britain if you should win; how old are you?
I’m 18 years old, and if elected, yes, I’d be Britain’s youngest councillor, a title that doesn’t matter to me. Whatever your age, you can do anything you want. Age is not a barrier.

How will you work to help your LGBT constituents if elected?
Hopefully by me being open as gay, people will feel more confident about being gay. When it comes to dealing with LGBT constituents, I’ll treat anyone who comes to me with an issue with love and compassion, and will try to resolve their issues.

You’ve said you don’t want to be a career politician. What makes you so sure you won’t catch the political bug and want to continue as an elected public servant?
If I believe I can benefit my great city of Birmingham more after my four years, I will re-stand. But I obviously can’t make that judgment now!

You’ve said that if elected, you’ll give away your salary. What are some of the projects you’d finance with that donation? 
I’m not elected yet, so I’ve not received a penny yet. I think you mean what I will give away — there’s more info on that here.

Your conservative community’s response to you as a young gay man has been largely positive. Why do you think your fears about coming out turned out to be unfounded?
Most of the community was ace, and you get some vile people who are homophobic and proud, but that’s life. People really didn’t care [that I am gay]. One of my friends said, “You’re still Luke, right? What’s different?” The reaction of people was an “unshocked vibe” because, to be frank, it was most obvious that I was gay.

I had struggled with being gay for years; I’d spent sleepless nights researching “gay cures” because I was born in an area where being gay just wasn’t normal. I moved away and became confident in who I was, and then one day while walking to the bus, I thought enough was enough. I am proud of who I am, I’m not hiding anymore. So I did the 2015 thing and came out through Facebook. [Such] glamour, right?

Any words of advice for LGBT young people who feel isolated?
I’d say just remember that “normal” is not a word — everyone is completely different, and nothingabout being gay is wrong. If you are a boy and fancy half of your male classmates, that’s normal. Enjoy the fact you’re gay! It’s so much fun! Thrive on being gay.

People say vile stuff, but you just ignore it. I’ve been blamed for all sorts [of things]. I got an email last week blaming me for the fact this guy’s bus was late. Ridiculous, right? Laugh off some hate, because it’s that stupid. But if it does become serious, get the police onto them.

How about a couple of words of advice for young LGBT entrepreneurs?
[Laughs] It’s so weird being called an “entrepreneur.” My (lefty hippy) advice: Remember what’s happening in the real world. If life were all suits, ties, and posh balls, then why does the word “poverty” exist? I try to be as ethical as I can in my business, environmentally and human-ly. I always remember the fact of why I wanted to set up a business — not for the money but to make an impact on the environment locally — a good impact.

Equality is for Everyone

Editorial:  The difficulty when you review articles at any time, is to have balance.  It becomes even more of a problem when you are based in Northern Ireland and you are looking at an article which relates to an election issue in Souther Ireland but is of interest to readers who will be voting in Northern Ireland.  In this case I refer to an article entitled

New effort to turn Irish gays into “untouchable unmarried eunuchs”

written by  and published in Irish Central.  The article is about the ‘no campaginers’ current campaign on marriage equality and why it is against children if you vote ‘yes’.

Just after reading this article I then was referred to Ms Susan-Anne White stance on the LGBT community, which we have already comment on.

The subject of equality is being lost in the rhetoric, equality means:

the state of being equal, especially in status, rights, or opportunities

Rosie Winterton wrote, “Everyone has a stake in creating a fair society because fairness is the foundation for individual rights, a prosperous economy and a peaceful society. Fairness and equality are the hallmarks of a modern and confident society. ”

We urge you to think carefully before you vote, to check your candidates history in relation to LGBT topics, and also the candidates party.

Remember your vote, along with everyone else who votes, will put the politicians who will run our country and also our institutions into power for five years.

Further Reading:

Health Minister Jim Wells Quits!

Reprinted Belfast Telegraph

Health Minister Jim Wells today quit his Executive post after facing massive pressure over controversial comments about same-sex relationships.

The DUP’s South Down candidate in the Westminster election said he was stepping down to care for his wife Grace, who recently suffered two strokes and went through major heart surgery.

Mr Wells has been at the centre of a political storm over his stance on same-sex relationships, after he claimed children brought up by gay parents were more likely to be abused.

Then on Saturday, he sparked further uproar after it was claimed he had criticised a lesbian couple while canvassing in Rathfriland.

As well as widespread calls to resign, Mr Wells became the target of an online hate campaign, which he said had badly affected him and his family.

He said that he and his family had been attacked in “a deeply personal, nasty and in some cases threatening way. Some of the outbursts on social media have been particularly abusive and menacing in nature”.

The pressure on Mr Wells had been increasing in recent months as he tried to juggle one of the most testing portfolios in the Stormont government – health – with the demands of looking after his wife.

Many of the health unions will be taking industrial action around the time of the May 7 election.

Early this morning, the DUP veteran told the Belfast Telegraph he had expected his wife’s health would have shown greater improvement before now.

However, he said Grace (right)will require long-term specialised care.

 

Health Minister Jim Wells

Health Minister Jim Wells

“As she now faces further challenges I have come to the point where I am no longer able to continue my ministerial duties and give Grace the attention she deserves,” he said.

“I have been working long hours within the department by day whilst receiving a steady flow of updates from family at the hospital and then sitting at Grace’s bedside throughout the night.

“Even in circumstances where Grace was sufficiently recovered and discharged, she would then more than ever require substantial assistance with rehabilitation. Having been my chief supporter throughout my career my first duty will always be to look after Grace and my family. Consequently I met with Peter and requested to stand down from ministerial office.”

First Minister Peter Robinson said he respected his Health Minister’s decision and thanked him for his work around the Executive table.

“I believe he has made a great contribution and always offered positive support at an Executive level,” the DUP leader said.

“I would have wanted it to be otherwise but I respect Jim’s decision. However, he is right to put his family first and I will fully support his decision.”

Mrs Wells, who celebrated her 57th birthday in hospital with a cake and surrounded by her family, has been diagnosed with Platypnea Orthodoexia Syndrome – a condition so rare there are only 50 cases worldwide each year.

And yesterday, it was reported Mr Wells was recently diagnosed with narcolepsy, a rare disorder which can cause sufferers to fall asleep without warning. The political row started when Mr Wells linked gay relationships to child abuse at an election event in Downpatrick.

Mr Wells said a child brought up in a homosexual relationship was more likely to be abused and neglected, claiming that such marriages were less stable.

 

In a video clip, Mr Wells was heard to say that “the facts show you certainly don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship”.

The DUP minister later apologised, but his remarks caused uproar.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said “the mask has slipped”, accusing the DUP of being “truly backward-looking” in its views.

Mr Robinson said Mr Wells’ remarks were “not our view and nor will it ever be our view.”

Police confirmed they were investigating the comments. They also launched a probe after receiving three complaints about an incident involving Mr Wells and a lesbian couple on the campaign trail.

It was alleged that he had been critical about the couple’s lifestyle while out canvassing on Saturday.

It was reported that Mr Wells had twice tried to apologise, but the couple had refused to accept it.

The daughter of one of the women told the BBC: “Jim Wells was trying to get in, trying to see mum and her partner said, ‘No she’s not coming out to see you, she doesn’t want to see you’.

“He really wanted to try and get in to apologise to her, but she didn’t want it.

“He kept saying about lifestyle choices and how it was wrong, how his party didn’t believe in lifestyle choices.

“My mum’s partner actually told him she’d voted DUP all her life and he’s now lost her vote.”

U.K. May Beat Record for Gay and Lesbian Lawmakers After Vote

Reprinted from Bloomberg Business:

 

House of Commons May Beat Record for Gay and Lesbian Lawmakers After Vote

The U.K.’s House of Commons may break its own record for the number of openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans-gender lawmakers after the May 7 general election.

There are more “out” candidates in winnable districts than in 2010, according to analysis of incumbent and prospective lawmakers across Britain’s 650 parliamentary constituencies by the LGBT Representation and Rights Research Initiative at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

“The Parliament elected on May 7 will almost certainly have even more out lesbian, gay and bisexual MPs than before –- a new record high,” Andrew Reynolds, the initiative’s director, said in an e-mailed statement. “There are more out candidates and more in winnable seats.”

The 26 openly LGBT House of Commons lawmakers elected in 2010, including 13 Conservatives, already represent the highest number among comparable legislative chambers in the world, the report said. Former minister Chris Smith, who now represents the opposition Labour Party in the unelected House of Lords, was the first House of Commons lawmaker to “come out” as gay in 1984.

Prime Minister David Cameron pushed his Conservatives to legalize same-sex marriage in 2013 with support from the Liberal Democrats, his junior coalition partner, and Labour. The move sparked anger among rank-and-file lawmakers and polls showed it led some voters to switch their support from the Conservatives to the U.K. Independence Party.

There are likely to be fewer “out” Conservative MPs and at least five more for the Labour Party after the election, the report said, citing analysis of races in individual districts.

Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said on Thursday that gay rights laws could be rolled back after May 7 if there is a Conservative-led coalition government reliant on support from UKIP and the Democratic Unionist Party, a Northern Irish group with socially conservative views.

The Conservatives are now equal with Labour as the party of choice for gay voters, according to a survey by the PinkNews website last month.

Young voters 'fed up' with Northern Irish politicians

vic and gary

Northern Ireland is “stuck in the past” according to some young voters there.

They’ve told Newsbeat they feel a “disproportionate amount of time” is spent dealing with the country’s violent past instead of introducing “modern laws”.

Compared to the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland, for example, still has tight restrictions on abortion and has not legalised gay marriage.

It’s left some feeling “mortified” and considering leaving the country.

Between 1968 and 1998 a bitter conflict was fought in Northern Ireland between those who want to stay part of the UK and those who want to leave and join the Republic of Ireland.

Although there is now peace, the cultural and political divide can still be felt in some areas.

Read our beginner’s guide to politics in Northern Ireland

“Everything comes down to ‘protestant and catholic'” says Mary, 23, who is part of the BBC’s Generation 2015 project.

“Everything is looked at through a very religious lens here, in a way that it isn’t in the rest of the UK.

“And when you see places like England, Wales and Scotland moving forward on issues like abortion and LGBT rights, it’s incredibly frustrating.”

Newsbeat has previously reported how Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK which doesn’t have, and isn’t yet consulting on, specific laws to make revenge porn illegal.

Mary

Mary is “mortified” by how “far behind” Northern Ireland

“We’re being stuck in the past,” Mary says.

But the past is important to Gary, 23, from Belfast.

His family say they are still fighting for “justice” for his great uncle, who was shot dead by British soldiers in the 1970s.

He says families on both sides who have lost relatives have a lot of questions they want answered.

“We do need to move forward but I believe the only way to do that properly is to look at the past – deal with everything that happened.

“Then we can move forward with everybody and not just the people this didn’t affect.”

Gary from Belfast

Gary, 23, believes politicians should “deal with everything that happened”

Billy-Jo, 20, grew up in care and says the system was designed to keep children with foster families of the same religious background.

It’s an example of how public services have been affected.

“If they took away that divide it will mean the prejudices for our generation aren’t going to be there,” she says.

In North Belfast, Gary, too, showed us examples of how the past can have an effect on modern issues.

He lives in a nationalist area, divided by a tall “peace wall”, from a neighbouring rival community.

He explains how in his area there is a lack of housing, however they are unable to move to where there is space in the next street.

“I would fear for my life,” he says.

Billy-Jo

“People want justice for their family members, but at the same time, it’s holding us back”

He agreed it would be the same in the reverse situation.

The Northern Ireland Housing Executive told Newsbeat there is no doubt “barriers get in the way of good housing solutions in Northern Ireland.”

But it says it is “working actively to support communities to remove those barriers and help areas become more welcoming, inclusive and accessible to people of diverse backgrounds.”

Despite his situation though, Gary believes the past must be “dealt with” before people in his community can move on.

Billy-Jo, whose aunt was killed by paramilitaries, said: “People want justice for their family members, but at the same time, it’s holding us back.”

Many people in Northern Ireland vote along their community and religious lines.

However, turnout has fallen over the last few decades as more and more feel their vote won’t have an impact.

Victoria, 24, from Scarva in Country Armagh, is happy for politicians to be religious and carry out their work accordingly:

“It’s very important for them, as individuals, to abide by their biblical standards and let that translate through the decisions they make.”

Victoria

Victoria, 24, believes politicians should be religious

However she believes those who get elected in 2015 should make more of an effort:

“People here in Northern Ireland would like to see politicians work together more.”

“At the moment it’s a mess” said Billy-Jo.

The impact of having lots of unhappy young adults is that many could, and might, leave.

Last year a survey by the Belfast Telegraph suggested two-thirds see their future outside of Northern Ireland.

Mary said she “definitely” considers leaving because the system in Northern Ireland has not kept up with “modern” views.

“Which is very sad,” she said.

Follow @BBCNewsbeat on Twitter, BBCNewsbeat on Instagram andRadio1Newsbeat on YouTube and you can now follow BBC_Newsbeat on Snapchat.

Mirror Website: Majority back gay marriage laws

Majority back gay marriage laws – except for those who support UKIP

The latest People’s Panel poll in the lead-up to the General Election reveals that a majority of all other party supporters backed the change in the law

Cameron vindicated: Majority back the change in the law allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry

Six in ten Sunday People readers back the change in the law ­allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The latest results from the People’s Panel, which is letting you have your say on key issues every week in the run-up to the May 7 polls , also reveal 33% of you strongly support the move.

It was most popular among ­women with 69% in favour ­compared with 50% of men.

UKIP voters were alone among the major parties in having more readers opposing the change than backing it – a vindication for David Cameron, who stuck his neck out to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual ones.

People's Panel. Pictured - To what extend do you support or oppose the law change allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry?
People’s Panel. Pictured – To what extend do you support or oppose the law change allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry?

One reader said: “There are more important things for the Government to deal with than gay and lesbian marriages.”

Another added: “Everyone should have a chance of happiness.”

As the People’s Panel focused on equality this week, it also emerged that more than three in five readers believe 16 should ­remain the age of consent – ­although 14% said it should be raised to 18, as in Turkey.

People's Panel. Pictured - What should the UK age for consent for sex be?
People’s Panel. Pictured – What should the UK age for consent for sex be?

More than six in ten want to keep the voting age at 18 and only 7% thought it should be lowered to 17, and 1% to 15. Some 18% favour 16, as ­proposed by Ed Miliband.

The Labour leader was ­persuaded to press for a change by the high turnout of 16-year-olds in last year’s Scottish referendum.

38 days 22 hours 27 minutes 37 seconds

He felt that having been given the right to vote once, 16 and 17-year-olds should not be denied it in future. The voting age was lowered to 16 for local elections in the Isle of Man, and Channel Islands Jersey and Guernsey.

In the US, 19 states allow 17-year-olds to vote in primary elections as long as they will be 18 on polling day.

In Japan the voting age is 20 and in Italy it is 25 for Senate elections.

People's Panel. Pictured - What should be the minimum voting age for general elections?
People’s Panel. Pictured – What should be the minimum voting age for general elections?

More than half of the People’s Panel did not feel governments have gone far enough in closing the gender pay gap. That rose to 65% among women voters.

A third of the 18-54 group, ­compared with 15% of the 55-plus, felt changes needed to bring about equality have been made.

One reader told us: “Women should be paid the same as men – but nurses should be paid more.”

Regarding childcare provision, only one in ten thought it should fall to mothers alone

Nearly one in three felt it should be shared equally with nine per cent more men holding that view than women. But more than half said divvying up childcare should depend on the circumstances of the parents..

People's Panel. Pictured - How should childcare be divvied up between fathers and mothers?
People’s Panel. Pictured – How should childcare be divvied up between fathers and mothers?
Equality polls. Pictured - Have governments done enough in the past 10 years to secure genre pay equality

Emily Brothers

Change.org

gSeán — There’s a new petition taking off on Change.org, and we think you might be interested in signing it;

David Dinsmore: Apologise for the dehumanising article on Emily Brothers

Rowan Davis
Carshalton, United Kingdom
Trigger Warning: transphobia and ableism

Emily Brothers is standing as MP for the constituency of Sutton & Cheam in the next General Election. Being both a trans woman and blind, she has already come under attack from journalists, in particular Rodd Liddle of the Sun, who on the 10th of December said that:

“Thing is… being blind, how did she know she was the wrong sex” [1]

By reducing her down to her blindness and transness, Liddle has contributed to the dehamanisation and opression of trans people and those with disabilities, and has helped uphold ableist and transphobic norms in politics.

We deserve better, and as such The Sun should publically apologise

European election: launch of ILGA-Europe’s Come Out European 2014 Elections Campaign

ILGA

On Tuesday 14 January, the ILGA-Europe launched their European election campaign in Strasbourg. Within 24 hours, 31 candidates have given their support by signing up to their 10 points Come Out 2014 Election Pledge. By signing the Pledge, candidates commit to fully use the European Parliament’s powers to deliver LGBTI equality between 2014-2019. The ILGA-Europe’s objective is to reach the highest possible number of support among MEP candidates and elected MEPs.

To participate in their Come Out Campaign and support your own election campaign initiatives, we have developed a campaign section on their website. The section consists of three parts:

  • For MEP candidates: This part is targeting candidates for the European elections in May, and consists of the Election Pledge, a simple sign up form and an overview on who has signed so far. Check it out here.
  • For Individuals and organisations: This section makes available resources for  to be involved in the campaign – the section provides tools for you to approach national candidates for the European elections. Check out the section here. Note that there is a “hidden” sub-section for Members only, which requires a username and password (username: EP2014, password: ep2014. Please do not share this information outside your organisation.) This “hidden” section contains documents on good ways on approaching candidates.
  • About European Elections: This section’s aim is to provide with general information on the European elections. Check it out here.

If you in the meantime have any questions about the campaign, then do not hesitate tthe ILGA-Europe [button_icon icon=”information” url=”http://www.ilga-europe.org/home/about_us/contact_us” blank=”true” colour=”green”]Contact the ILGA-Europe Here[/button_icon]