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Canterbury Council cleared of anti-gay charge

Canterbury City Council has been cleared by the Local Government Ombudsman of an accusation that it is not "gay friendly." This followed a complaint from the group Canterbury Pride. Their seem to be two defences to the charge. The first was that it was untrue - for instance that Canterbury Council had funded gay events in the past and was willing to do so in the future.

The second was that there is presently no statutory requirement on local councils to promote "Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender culture" to use the jargon description. According to Pink News this will change if the Equality Bill passes in its current form as it imposes "a duty on all public bodies to promote equality and diversity which will include LGBT issues." Should it? What would it mean in practice? An excuse for councils to employ LGBT Officers spending their time attending LGBT Conferences discussing LGBT Issues with LGBT Officers from other councils? Then writing long impenetrable reports nobody reads. Wouldn't the gay (as well as straight) residents in Canterbury rather lower Council Tax bills and a focus on getting the dustbins emptied?

In Canterbury the complaint seems to be a particular organisation that used to get funding and doesn't anymore. It is also demanding funding for a "community drop in centre for the LGBT community." Canterbury Pride also complains that there are no gay bars in Canterbury. Surely that is a matter best left to the market. If the demand is there then let them buy an existing bar or start up a new one. Perfectly reasonable to expect equal treatment from the Licensing Department in the way any application is treated. But not to demand a subsidy.

Then there is the democratic argument. Each time a "duty" in imposed from Whitehall on a Council to do something the decision is taken away from those elected locally.


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