I thought David Laws’ resignation was dignified and full of integrity – as is he – but very sad to watch.
This matter is now for the authorities to investigate – and will take its course. David’s brilliance is a serious loss to our government and our country – particularly at this time of great need.
But outside of the proprieties or otherwise of David’s arrangements for housing and financing thereof – what I saw when I watched his resignation statement – was the personal pain of an individual who has not felt able to be open about their sexuality.
However progressive our laws are – we have not yet reached the point where young people feel completely free about coming out. Iain Dale has a very good piece in the Mail on Sunday about his own experiences and the difficulties of coming out to his family and friends – and coming from a small village. Yes things are changing – but these personal matters are still not easy for the variety of reasons that Iain sites.
We also know that homophobic bullying in our schools is still a major problem. 98% of schools have anti-bullying policies but only 6% have specific policies to tackle homophobic bullying. Six out of ten children experience homophobic bullying.
During anti-bullying week at the end of ’09, Nick Clegg said:
‘It’s a sad fact that looking or acting ‘gay’ can instantly make someone a target in thousands of schools across the country’.
‘Until we deal with homophobia in schools, we’re never going to stamp out wider discrimination in society’.
Both Liberal Democrats and Conservatives highlighted this issue in their manifestos. In the coalition agreement it appears thus: ‘We will help schools tackle bullying in schools, especially homophobic bullying’.
David Laws’ untimely and sad departure from the cabinet demonstrates how very far we still have to go and how very right the coalition is to pursue this issue – for all our sakes.