Dear Theresa May,
Firstly, I would like to admit that I did not vote Conservative in the recent general election, nor do I agree with many of the policies that your party stands for. That being said, I’m sure that you would agree that there are two sides to every debate.
When I heard that you were planning on commencing discussions with the DUP in order to form a government, I felt anxious. As a gay man, I am all too aware of the attitudes held by the DUP when it comes to the rights of myself and my LGBT+ neighbours. It is extremely disheartening to hear homophobic, biphobic or transphobic views in mainstream politics in 2017, given that the United Kingdom has become one of the most socially progressive and inclusive nations in Europe.
We have come a long way since Section 28, a policy that was implemented by your predecessors, which saw a blanket ban on the 'promotion' of homosexuality in schools. Today we’re able to talk about same-sex relationships in a classroom, allowing future generations to lead the way on the journey towards acceptance of difference.
That being said, the silent killer within the LGBT+ community is silence itself. There are thousands of LGBT+ young people living with mental health problems due to the effects of bullying and being exposed to negative messages about their sexuality or gender identity.
As a teenager, I used to wish that I wasn’t gay, because I was tired of the name calling and I was scared that my sexuality would be barrier to living a happy, successful life. I would cry on a daily basis. I had lost an important part of who I was – my smile.
I was fortunate enough to find a supportive group of friends who accept me for who I am. Sadly, the same cannot be said for many other young LGBT+ people. We know that LGBT+ people are disproportionately affected by mental health issues, resulting in higher rates of suicide, self-harm and depression within our community. An alliance with the DUP, known for its homophobia, isn’t going to break down the hurdles that many LGBT+ people face on a daily basis – far from it.
The name-callers I dealt with as a teenager were probably too young to truly understand the consequences of their words. DUP politicians do not have this excuse. People who hold positions of power must lead by example, otherwise they risk influencing the degradation of our progressive society.
I am appealing to you, a woman who has had to wait for the approval of men in order to hold the position in which you find yourself today. You have had your rights oppressed, so why can’t you see that a union with a party that has repeatedly fought to squash the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people is a grave error?
By signing up to a partnership with the DUP, you are turning your back on LGBT+ people once and for all. Let’s forget about the majority you wish to acquire, and focus on the bigger picture. This union would send out the message that you have no regard for the rights of LGBT+ people, nor do you care about their wellbeing or their future.
I hope you choose wisely.
Words by Hadley Stewart