Draw a roster of PMs, politicians or just, people we love to hate and Tony Blair is definitely makes that list.
A testimony to that is the backlash he got after being named the “Philanthropist of the Year” by GQ. (Read: Tony Blair named “Philanthropist of the Year” – Twitter doesn’t agree)
But The Gay Times “gay icon” title is one that he truly deserves.
The Gay Times editor, Darren Scott, said: “Wherever you stand politically, you would be hard pushed to deny what Tony Blair and his government did for the LGBT community. He definitely helped pave the way, and for that I’m grateful.”
Here are five reasons why Blair deserves the title:
1. An equal age of consent
In 2000, Blair threw his weight behind the Sexual Offences (Amendment) which defined the age “at which a person, whether male or female, may lawfully consent to a homosexual relationship”.
He lowered the age of consent for homosexuals from 18 to 16 in England, Wales and Scotland and 17 in Northern Ireland.
At the time, Blair said: “People are entitled to think that homosexuality is wrong, but they are not entitled to use the criminal law to force that view upon others.
“A society that has learned, over time, racial and sexual equality can surely come to terms with equality of sexuality.”
2. The abolition of section 28
Blair repealed the Local Government Act that prohibited authorities in England and Wales from “promoting” homosexuality and labelled gay family relationships “pretend”.
Blair says he is “proud” of heading the move to abolish section 28.
Accepting the gay icon title he said: “It’s something I’m very proud of. I consider it a significant part of my legacy. I remember section 28, that was pretty nasty.
“It created a very ugly atmosphere in society – as I was growing up in politics, I disliked the hypocrisy where people had to conceal their own identity. And I saw the pain that they had in their own lives, because they couldn’t be who they were.”
3. Civil partnerships
The Gender Recognition Act 200, passed during Blair’s years, allowed gay couples to form legally recognised partnerships.
Writing in the Independent in 2005, Blair said: “The Civil Partnership Act may not be the biggest change that this Government has brought in. But, by correcting an obvious injustice, removing fear and providing security, it will change the lives of tens of thousands of people for the better. It is also, importantly, another step towards the fairer, more tolerant country which this Labour Government pledged to build.”
4. Legal recognition for transgender people
Tony Blair gained more clout with LGBT communities after supporting the Gender Recognition Act 2004 which allowed transgender people to change their birth certificate to reflect their new gender.
5. Banning employers from discriminating against employees on sexual orientation
In 2003, Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations came into effect which prohibited employers discriminating against employees on grounds of sexual orientation. This was another one of Blair’s wins.