Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for January 29th, 2012

A Night at the Green Carnation

Posted by jonathanfryer on Sunday, 29th January, 2012

As a convinced Wildean (celebrating beauty and social justice in all their forms) since my Oxford days and as a sometime chronicler of Soho’s bohemian history, I’m surprised at myself that I had never been to the Green Carnation bar/club in Greek Street until last night — or indeed heard of it. Maybe it hasn’t been in existence for very long, as I have walked down that street so many times and it’s only a few doors along from the Gay Hussar (no pun intended) Hungarian restaurant, long a haunt of Labour politicos in particular. But it was at the Green Carnation that the LibDems’ national group for lesbian, gay, bi and transgender issues last night had their pre-winter conference social to limber them up for their business session at the party headquarters later today, which I will be attending in my function as a Vice President. Formerly known as Delga, LGBT+LDs have made great progress both within the party and now within government in promoting minority rights. Until his shock defeat in May 2010, Dr Evan Harris (MP for Oxford West and Abingdon) was a huge support, and in Lynne Featherstone, Minister for Equalities at the Home Office, the cause now has someone at the heart of government, moreover not only with the backing of Nick Clegg and the rest of the LibDem team but also of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. Gay marriage has been one of the top campaigning issues for LGBT+LDs, alongside the lifting of the ban on gay men giving blood, and it is to Mr Cameron’s credit that he has come out strongly for the former, despite the growls from his back woodsmen in the Houses of Parliament, not to mention the extraordinary comment earlier this week from the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, who said that the Prime Minister was acting like a dictator by promoting the issue. Oscar Wilde himself would doubtless have savoured the era we live in today in Britain and so much of the European Union, Latin America and beyond, where sexuality is no longer seen as a litmus test of respectability, or indeed acceptability, and where we celebrate diversity. The Queen recently received the credentials of a Latin American ambassador who went to Buckingham Palace with his male civil partner. Good for her, good for Britain, and good for true liberalism, which judges people on their character and their humanity, not on their sexual orientation or living arrangements.

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