By Kalvin Chapman
Former UKIP Manchester Chairman
Originally posted in October 2016, as told to Kipper Central
As a teenager I was part of the gay rights activism, but never joined a political party. The age of consent was 21. As an 18 year old I was not allowed to consent to a relationship with another man. If I dated a 22 year old, he would go to prison for it. HIV/AIDS was rampant, and I was once threatened with death for having a poster up at college that showed two men holding hands (the AIDS poster back then were amazing and very artistic).
I was probably in the Labour camp. My first election in which I could vote was 1997. I remember waking up that day to a huge landslide for the Tony Blair. I wondered what it would be that led to Blair being the most hated man in history – and in due course that was in fact what happened.
I voted Labour in 1997 and again in 2005. In 2010 I voted LibDem and really thought they would do amazing at the polls. They did not; they in fact lost MPs.
During that time I put myself through college, then King’s College London to study law, then Northumbria University to complete the LPC, the professional post graduate diploma to become a solicitor. I then worked as a paralegal whilst I applied for training contracts (the training that finally would let me qualify as a solicitor). I am very proud to be a solicitor.
I used to live in Edinburgh. I have many friends in Edinburgh. I got very involved in the Scottish Independence Referendum, which took place on 18 September 2014. I would have preferred Scotland having devo-max, but remaining a formal part of the UK. Almost all of my Scottish friends wanted full independence. I asked one of my friend why he did not put his name forward for the 2015 election if he was so passionate about politics. He asked why I did not. So I did.
I looked at all of English parties. Which party represented me, my ideals and my political view point. Labour absolutely does not represent me. Blair ruined Labour. Miliband ruined it further. I suspect, and I say this a lot, had David Miliband been the leader Labour would have won a landslide in 2010 and they would still be in power now (2016). So Labour was out. I could never say that I backed “Bandwagon Eddie” Miliband. He was weak and ineffective.
The Conservatives were attractive. The problem was, I really, really despised David Cameron. He was/is slime. The Conservative party has LGBTQ MPs (noting that the UK has the highest proportion of LGBTQ MPs in the world). However, I again did not think that I could join because I did not agree with the way the Conservatives had targeted the poorest in society with their attacks on the benefits of the disabled with the disastrous testing of anyone on benefits that told really, really ill people that they should go back to work – this directly led to the deaths of UK citizens. They cut legal aid as far and as fast as Labour had done so between 2005 and 2010. The Conservatives also increased Court fees and Tribunal fees so much that the Courts & Tribunals of the UK are no longer available for the poor. The rich got richer whilst the poor could no longer afford to use the Courts & Tribunals, so got even poorer. Cameron tried using “we’re all in it together” yet the rich and the MPs did not seem to be having to deal with the horrendous cuts that we ordinary people were impacted by the austerity cuts. For me, the Tories were out.
The LibDems, who I had voted for at the last election in 2010, were definitely out. They lied to the voter – but principally they lied to students and slit the throat of the electorate in pursuit of political power. The entire drive behind the LibDems was that they would look after students and fight against the Labour imposed tuition fees. They caved and backed the Conservatives’ price hike on tuition fees. I absolutely will never ever back the LibDems again for the rest of my life.
That left the Green Party or UKIP.
I looked at the UKIP 2015 manifesto. I was very surprised. I had rarely considered UKIP prior to this. I had heard of them, but had not really paid attention. But I had read the headlines. The manifesto spoke to me. The manifesto, bar the points on climate change issues, really was almost 100% what I thought. I won’t go through all policies.
I decided that of the parties out there, only UKIP had the policies that I believed in and which I could passionately advocate on. That has not once changed since I joined the party. I joined UKIP and stood as the Parliamentary Candidate for UKIP Stretford & Urmston (in Trafford). I get questioned a lot as to why I chose UKIP, so here are the issues that usually get brought up.
“UKIP is homophobic. UKIP was against equal marriage. Even the LGBTQ chairman called UKIP homophobic”.
This is the most asked question. How can I support a party that is “clearly” homophobic. To be clear: UKIP is far from homophobic. It is absolutely ridiculous to say UKIP is homophobic.
I am the secretary of UKIP Manchester and the secretary of UKIP Greater Manchester and the former secretary of UKIP Stretford & Urmston. I have met every chairman of every branch in Greater Manchester. I have met members from Scotland down to London. I have never once met a single homophobic person. Not one. I am very popular and attend a lot of meetings of UKIP branches and meetings with chairmen of branches. I had the full support of everyone when I said I was going to put my name forward for the Greater Manchester Mayor race (I subsequently had to retract due to ill health).
I have no doubts that there are homophobic people in UKIP. But there are in the Labour Party. It has happened in the Conservative Party. It has happened in the SNP. It has also allegedly happened in the LibDem.
On the streets we had people turn up who would tell me or my colleagues that we were homophobic. They then spluttered when told that I am openly gay. I recall the Young Independents being called homophobic. The problem with that is that the YI has just elected an openly gay Chairman, Jamie Ross McKenzie.
What I have found since joining UKIP is, as set out very clearly by Nigel Farage, pretty much no-one cares what your sexuality is. If you’re gay, welcome. Feel free to join the UKIP LGBTQ team. Be free to discuss issues relating to the LGBTQ side of politics. But do not expect UKIP or its members to give you some rights or benefits or a platform that the rest of UKIP does not have. That is the same for every sub-group of people in UKIP. No-one gets rights in UKIP that others do not have. We are all as equal as each other. No-one is more equal than the rest. And that is exactly what attracts me to UKIP.
In many other areas of politics gay rights seems to give those in the movement a right to act in ways that no-one else can – they get platforms that others do not have. Why? I am exactly as equal as an LGBTQ member as I would be as a YI member (though I am slightly too old now to be in UKIP YI, I just use it as an example). I am friends with a lot of people in YI. I am friends with UKIP members from all over the UK. For me, being equal in everything is the beginning, middle and end of the issue. I have no more rights than any-one else and no-one else has any more rights than me. No-one cares what my sexuality is. No-one intends to treat me any differently. And no-one would worry about telling me a joke that someone in Labour would pass out at and scream “homophobia!” at. I have the UKIP LGBTQ badge on my website – no-one has ever mentioned it because it literally is not important because in UKIP every single member is as equal as the next and my gender or sexuality does not change this.
And that is why I love UKIP. I am not a “special case” because I am gay. I am not treated better or worse as a result – I am treated as a member based upon what it is that I can give to UKIP. I am supported by UKIP and all of the branches I work with based upon what it is that I can offer UKIP, what I do in UKIP and what my character is. People respect me because I work hard for UKIP; my sexuality makes literally no difference to anyone. I find it abhorrent that in some other parties people’s sexuality or similar issue makes those people somehow different to the rest of their party. That is abhorrent. I am equal and would expect nothing else.
“UKIP & its MP are Against Equal Marriage Rights – It Is Therefore Homophobic”
The next issue I always get asked is about equality in marriage. UKIP was, at the time, against the law brought in to allow people of the same sex to get married. Prior to that Labour had refused to allow equal marriage laws, they instead allowed people of the same sex to have a civil partnership. UKIP’s only MP, Douglas Carswell, voted against the law to allow same sex marriage. As it happens, UKIP’s current policy is to accept equal marriage and not to re-visit the issue.
Why would I, as a gay man that support marriage equality, want to be part of a party that was historically against it? If only I had £1 for every time I was asked this.
UKIP was not, and never has been, against the ability of two people to marry in law. There are certainly some people in the party that are against it, as there are in all parties. No, what UKIP was against was the legislation. UKIP believed (and I would say wrongly) that the legislation was not strong enough in ensuring that Churches cannot get sued for refusing to marry two people of the same sex. I can fully understand why UKIP took this stance, though I would disagree with the fundamentals of it.
In the western world there have been a huge number of Court cases in which LGBTQ activists have issued claims in Court against people, groups or companies in order to push the envelope on gay rights. This happens a lot in the US. One of the more flagrant types of cases is the claim against a photographer or cake maker for refusing to provide a service at a same sex marriage. UKIP wanted to ensure that this did not happen in the UK.
I say I understand it but think UKIP was wrong. I say this because the law that was put through Parliament (and which is now law) was and is iron clad. The law strictly prohibits the Church of England from performing a same sex wedding. Even if an Anglican vicar wanted to perform one, s/he legally cannot. The Church, and all churches in the UK, simply could not be sued for refusing to perform a same sex marriage. I know of no claims that have attempted to circumvent that law (though may be wrong on this). I do know some people that regret that they cannot marry in the church of their religion, but I do not know of any attempts to reverse it other than through Parliament and to date I have not seen any real attempts to reverse the law. I was surprised to be told that David Cameron actually regrets the law, though that is irrelevant.
So, my answer has always been, I fully understand why UKIP took the stance it did. I understand why Douglas Carswell took the stance he did. It makes neither UKIP nor its only MP homophobic. Indeed, as far as I am aware, Douglas Carswell is a very good ally of UKIP LGBTQ. I do know people in UKIP that does not accept that people of the same sex should be allowed. I know gay people in UKIP and outside of it who think this. They are entitled to their view, but the fact is this is the law of the land and that will never change. So that, dear reader, is how and why I could join UKIP despite its historic position on marriage equality.
My final point is the racism and Islamophobic claims.
UKIP more than any other party is portrayed as being racist and islamophobic. Many, many people refuse to back UKIP because of this. Many more privately support UKIP but would or could not publicly say this because the far left delight in violence against UKIP supporters. Violence always comes out when they cannot beat the policies and the violence always comes from the far left.
Why do I think that UKIP is absolutely not racist or Islamophobic? I can tell you, it is absolutely bull. I am the secretary of UKIP Manchester. On our executive committee there is a gay man (me), a mixed race man (our Treasurer), a woman (our membership secretary who is also the Chair of UKIP YI North West) and a white straight man (our Chairman). Of our two members of the London Assembly there is one gay, white male (Peter Whittle who was also the Mayoral candidate for UKIP in the 2016 London mayor contest) and one is a mixed race man (David Kurton).
We recently had a leadership contest. In the final line up there were three women and two men running. The previously most popular candidate was a mixed race man (Steven Woolfe). In most polls I saw, Steven Woolfe had over 70% of the vote. He was not in the final line up. In the final contest 83% of the membership that voted, voted for one of the female candidates. A female was elected. in labour, no woman has EVER placed higher than a man in a leadership contest. Ever.
In the May 2015 General Election we had many gay, black, mixed race and muslim people standing. In the Greater Manchester Mayoral contest the candidates for UKIP is a jew.
So you see, I do not need anything else to inform me about this. I see in almost everything I do with UKIP that is blind to colour, to sexuality, to gender and to faith. We all get along. We all accept that everyone is their own man/woman. We do not give anyone rights that others do not enjoy. We all support people based upon their character and what they do to take forward this great country of ours. We genuinely do not care what their sexuality is, because their character is not usually based upon that. We do not care what colour their skin is, because their character is usually not based upon that. We do not care what gender they have, because their character is usually not based upon that. What we do care about is whether they as individuals will promote the actual policies of UKIP and whether they will help take the movement forward in a positive and happy way. It is very true that if someone tried joining UKIP whose only attribute was being gay then they would likely not go down well with the party. If a Generation Snowflake tried joining and tried imposing their ridiculous SJW demands for safe spaces and trigger warnings, they would likely not get very far in the Party. But if they joined and were female, they would go as far as their character took them – this does include going as far as being the party leader.
There is much more I could cover, but that essentially gives the broad outline of why I can join UKIP, get far in UKIP and do not have a problem with UKIP and its membership. I am at home in UKIP and I am very, very proud to be a part of a movement within which I have made a lot of friends and had an absolutely amazing time. I love being a part of it. I love being a part o the UKIP LGBTQ group. I love meeting all of the people I do. No other party is like UKIP, thankfully. And, even more thankfully, UKIP is not what it is portrayed to be in the left leaning media. We are a true libertarian party with policies that transcend the usual left/right of politics that the conservative and labour parties have. I am right of centre, but have ideals that are on the left and ideals that are on the right. I am a UKIP candidate that cannot be boxed or labelled in the way a tory or labour candidate must be.
If you want to join UKIP then I say do so. Just do not expect to be anything other than a member. If you want to be a member but with special privileges because your left leg is three-eights of an inch shorter than the right, then this is not the party for you.
 IB Times 22 February 216 ” UK has highest number of LGBT politicians in the world”
 One article amongst thousands: The Guardian 27 August 2016 ” Thousands have died after being found fit for work, DWP figures show”
 The Disability News Service 18 September 2015 ” Coroner’s ‘ground-breaking’ verdict: Suicide was ‘triggered’ by ‘fit for work’ test”
 New Statesman 14 March 2016 ” The real impact of the legal aid cuts”
 The Guardian February 2016 “Staggering price of civil court fees comes with a human cost”
 Institute of Economics blog, Christopher Snowden, 11 September 2015 ” The rich get richer and the poor get… richer.
 Huffington Post, 14 September 2013 “Ten Broken Lib Dem Promises”
 UKIP Manifesto for the May 2015 General Election
 Pink Paper 26 February 2015 ” UKIP’s LGBT Chair quits: ‘I couldn’t defend the party any more’”
 The Birmingham Mail 21 March 2016 “Teenage Labour activist quits political role claiming he was victim of homophobia”
 The Guardian 27 November 2015 ” Elliott Johnson: the young Tory destroyed by the party he loved”
 The Sun 19 September 2016 “HOMOPHOBIA ROW
SNP MP defends homophobic abuse of Ruth Davidson after Scottish Tory leader called ‘dyke’ at independence rally”
 Conservative Home 6 July 2012 ” Lib Dems accused of running homophobic campaign in Kingston”
 The Huffington post 19 August 2016 ” Ukip Youth Group Trade Islamophobic, Anti-Semitic And Homophobic Slurs In Secret Facebook Group”
 UKIP Independents “Meet The Team”
 UKIP Manchester “Meet Our People” “Treasurer Mark Davies”
 UKIP Manchester “Meet Our People” “Membership Secretary Katie Fanning”
 UKIP Manchester “Meet Our People” “Chairman Phil Eckersley”
 Will & Grace “Whatever Happened to Baby Gin”