About 65 people attended the first of two LGBT election hustings, organised by The LGBT Community Safety Forum, at The Queens Hotel on Monday April 13.
THIS first one was for Parliamentary Candidates from the three Brighton and Hove Constituencies. The second LGBT election hustings, for candidates who are ward councillors, will be held at the same venue on Tuesday, April 21, between 7pm-9pm.
All parties and Independent candidates were free to sit on the panel.
The six candidates that chose to do so were:
• Paul Chandler (Liberal Democrat Party candidate for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven)
• Matt Taylor (Independent candidate for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven)
• Howard Pillot (Socialist Party of Great Britian candidate for Brighton Pavilion)
• Peter Kyle (Labour Party candidate for Hove & Portslade)
• Caroline Lucas (Green Party candidate for Brighton Pavilion)
• Simon Kirby (Conservative Party candidate for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven)
UKIP were noticeable by their absence.
Fourteen questions were submitted online, and these were asked after each candidate had given a 2 minute opening statement.
The order for answering each question was decided by random draw each time, and each candidate had 2 minutes to answer each question.
The candidates were sent the questions 6 hours before the meeting, and understood that there would also be further questions from the floor.
Howard Pillot declared at the start that he was unelectable – but was pleased to have the opportunity to propose a total change to the system and an end to Capitalism. His answers to all the questions were unashamedly variations on this basic theme.
Matt Taylor also had a very simple message – elect him and he will promise to represent everybody. His main platforms were End Corruption, and a Natural Health Service. He said that he had learnt a lot from attending the Hustings and was keen to listen….
Simon Kirby and Caroline Lucas, both seeking re-election after one term as MPs for Brighton Kemptown and Peacehaven and Brighton Pavilion respectively, took the opportunity to remind the audience of their support for the LGBT and HIV communities, and Peter Kyle was keen to point out his achievements, as a gay man, in supporting our communities.
There were several questions about what candidates felt still needed to be done around LGBT issues, and specifically what they would do to legislate around Trans, Older LGBT, Disabled LGBT, BME and HIV issues.
The candidates from the four ‘mainstream’ parties were largely in agreement on aims, the main differences were around the way to achieve those aims through the way that the economy is run and the way that the NHS is run. Simon Kirby was keen to support involvement of private companies such as Virgin Care, while Caroline Lucas was keen to “renationalise” the NHS for instance.
A question came from a man who is unable to marry his non-EU partner because his income isn’t sufficient to meet the Government’s requirements. All candidates agreed that this was a scandalous situation, and that equality, and freedom to marry the person one loves, is not possible if a financial test is applied, especially one that 51% of the population would not “pass”.
All candidates felt that they would support a proposal for an NHS Gender Clinic in Brighton.
Speaking after the hustings, Mr Kirby said: “As someone who has been proud to represent a constituency with a large LGBT community I was delighted to be able to take questions today at this hustings, and to reiterate my proven commitment to LGBT issues.
“I was glad that we were able to discuss issues affecting trans people so openly, and I am pleased that everyone on the panel mentioned that they will be looking to work hard on these issues over the next five years.
“The LGBT Community Safety Forum is a fantastic local organisation, and I was delighted to be able to speak at their hustings.”