vendredi 1 octobre 2010

Homos dans le pétrin

Ben Summerskill, patron de Stonewall, préfère l'opinion de ses donateurs à celle des activistes des médias. Il a raison de privilégier l'enquête interne à un ralliement prématuré qui pourrait réduire son ROI.

L'association britannique de défense des droits des homosexuels Stonewall (20 000 adresses de donateurs récents au compteur), se trouve au coeur d'une controverse. D'un côté les militants qui souhaitent que les unions de même sexe puissent être des mariages comme les autres et puis les désirs de la communauté homosexuelle bien plus nuancés sur la question.

On a toujours tendance à réduire l'opinion des personnes homosexuelle à celle des figures de proue du mouvement qui, dans la plupart des cas, sont des farouches partisans de l'affichage public de leur orientation sexuelle et de sa reconnaissance par l'Etat et par la société notamment par le biais du mariage.

Mais voilà, patatras, Stonewall par le biais de son président Ben Summerskill dévoile qu'une telle reconnaissance aurait un impact fiscal de cinq milliards de livres !

Ce pavé dans la mare horrifie les activistes médiatiques qui poussent à la roue pour l'adoption par le parlement du principe du mariage homosexuel.

Les cris d'orfraie des homos médiatiques ne font pas trembler Stonewall qui se préoccupe de l'opinion de ses donateurs avant celle du buzz médiatique. En fin de compte, ce sont les donateurs qui financent Stonewall.

Or il se trouve que les homosexuels sont bien plus divisés sur la question du mariage que ne le laissent penser les médias.

C'est cette réalité du terrain dont Stonewall est le reflet qui dérange les excellences roses du monde médiatico-politique.

Cette affaire soulève l'intéressant exemple d'une association militante qui n'est plus en phase avec l'opinion publique mais qui préfère sauvegarder son coeur de cible.

Dans cette affaire, je pense que Stonewall et son président Ben Summerskill ont choisi la bonne option à moyen et long terme.

Les comptes de Stonewall sont disponibles ici. En deux mots : dépenses liées au fundraising, 450 000 livres; dons de personnes physiques, 896 000 livres; Fondations et associations, 777000 livres; mécénat d'entreprise, 589 000 livres.

Scott Roberts: Embarrassment for a charity lagging behind public opinion

When Britain's largest gay rights charity is even at odds with Boris Johnson on the position of marriage equality, it knows it has a problem.

Two weeks ago, Ben Summerskill, the Chief Executive of Stonewall, threw a Molotov cocktail at the campaign for same-sex marriage. Rather than backing proposals – put forward by the Liberal Democrats – he warned they could potentially cost Britain "£5bn" over the course of 10 years.

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Mr Summerskill's justification for the high figure stems from the fact that the policy would also open up civil partnerships to straight couples – currently only legally applicable to same-sex partners.

But for the head of Stonewall to make this argument days before members voted overwhelmingly to endorse the policy, has left many people unsurprisingly infuriated.

Steve Gilbert, the openly gay MP for Newquay and St Austell accused Mr Summerskill of "putting a price on equality".

Stonewall's position is made all the more confusing because the charity has publicly said that it is "consulting" its 20,000 members on whether or not to endorse gay marriage. Many also see Mr Summerskill's £5bn figure as a gift for homophobes looking for an excuse to curb gay rights.

Prominent figures in the community, including two of the charity's co-founders, Labour MEP Michael Cashman and Britain's leading openly gay actor, Sir Ian McKellen have criticised the charity's fears about cost.

Simon Hughes, the Lib Dems' Deputy Leader, also defended his party's gay marriage policy, saying Ben Summerskill's intervention had been "unhelpful" – while a Lib Dem press officer described the figure as "bogus".

It puts Stonewall in a deeply embarrassing position. As Peter Tatchell rightly points out, it is now the only main gay rights charity in Britain that has not joined the campaign for full marriage equality – that is despite growing political consensus from the Lib Dems, Labour, significant parts of the Conservative Party, and overwhelmingly the British people.

Maybe it is time Stonewall stopped stonewalling and joined the rest of us?

Scott Roberts is news editor for Gaydar radio

Pour en savoir plus :

Stonewall chief executive won't be 'jumped into' gay marriage position

By Jessica Geen • September 27, 2010 - 21:20

Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill defended his group's lack of a position on marriage equality this evening.

Mr Summerskill mounted a robust defence of Stonewall, although he was attacked by audience members who questioned why the charity had not begun considering marriage equality sooner.

Following criticism of him at a Liberal Democrat event last week, Mr Summerskill told an audience at a fringe event at the Labour conference in Manchester that Stonewall would not be “jumped into” declaring a position on the issue and said there remained a “wide range of viewpoints” on the matter. Last week, he claimed that Liberal Democrat proposals for equal access to both marriage and civil partnerships regardless of sexuality could cost up to £5 billion.

This evening, he spoke on a panel with lesbian Labour MP Angela Eagle, gay Labour MP David Cairns and gay journalist Johann Hari.

Today, Stonewall co-founder and Labour MEP Michael Cashman criticised the charity and called on Mr Summerskill to “speak up” for marriage equality.

Mr Summerskill said Stonewall was aiming to build a consensus on whether marriage equality should be the next step for the gay community in order to ensure any legislation would have cross-party support and pass in the House of Lords.

He said that this was a issue of “tactics” and added: “We do not feel embarrassed about raising this.”

He was speaking at an event organised by Stonewall and LGBT Labour and a member of LGBT Labour, Darren McCombe, attacked him, saying: “Why haven't you consulted earlier? Separate is not ever equal.”

To applause, Mr McCombe said LGBT Labour had quickly reached a consensus on the matter through a democratic vote.
He also raised the issue of current laws requiring trans people to end their marriages to obtain gender recognition certificates.

Mr Summerskill acknowledged the “terrible unfairness” of this situation but said he had been in talks with ministers and officials about amendments to the Gender Recognition Act.

On the issue of straight couples being refused civil partnerships, he said gay marriage had been “chained” to heterosexual rights, which Stonewall does not lobby for.

The former Labour MP David Borrow also criticised Stonewall. He said: “It is not a member-run organisation. It does not give the opportunity to LGBT people to come together.”

He said that the charity is still seen as a spokesman for the gay community and implored Mr Summerskill to “go back to Stonewall and look again”.

Mr Borrow added that the charity had a “real dilemma” in who it speaks for.

In response, Mr Summerskill said: “Stonewall has never pretended to be a democratic member organisation. We have never said we speak for all lesbian, gay and bisexual people.”

He added that it was “critical” to build alliances across parties and argued that legislation could be rejected by the House of Lords if there was a perception that there was not a consensus among gay people.

Another panel member, the journalist Johann Hari, said: “We are not the government, we are making demands on the government.”

Referring to Stonewall's estimated £5 billion cost over ten years for allowing straight couples to have civil partnerships, he argued that the disability lobby would not deliberate over the cost of wheelchair ramps.

However, Mr Summerskill responded: “It is perfectly proper to say there are arguments that will be used against us so we can counter them”.

He also pleaded with those present not to make the issue “party political”, claiming that the House of Lords would “retreat to tradition” and reject progressive legislation if this were to be the case.

Members of the LGBT Labour group had attempted to secure a debate on the issue of marriage equality at the main conference, but it was ranked at just position 13 in a priority ballot by party activists.

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