I’m sure most of you are aware of the news hitting social media recently, but in case you haven’t, De Montfort University, my alma mater, has controversially made David Cameron a Companion of the University, the highest award that they could bestow upon the Prime Minister, for his involvement in legalising same-sex marriage. Given the Conservative Party’s very poor history with this generation of voters, among other reasons, you can understand why quite a lot of people were, for lack of a better phrase, ridiculously pissed off.
In all honesty, I’m not enraged or frothing at the mouth from the situation, I’m just disappointed. The behaviour shown by the university does not reflect its support of the LGBTQA+ community, nor the voice of its students, but reflects the Executive Board’s and, most importantly, Vice-Chancellor Dominic Shellard’s delusions of grandeur.
The notion that David Cameron ‘went against’ his party to pass the marriage equality act is a complete farce. The party, as well as Mr Cameron himself, didn’t have any intention of introducing same-sex marriage during the 2010 election, and was actually the Under Secretary for Equalities, Ex-Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone, who put forward the discussion for marriage equality and was the first politician to support the Out4Marriage campaign. David Cameron may have voted for and supported same-sex marriage after it started to become a political movement, but his record of voting has been anything but supportive to the LGBTQA+ community. Including his previous support of Section 28, an act which stopped schools “promoting homosexuality” that was introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1988, he also voted in favour of an act which would ban homosexual couples from adopting, and voted in favour of banning lesbian couples from having IVF treatment as recently as 2008. As well as this, there is also the fact that the Tory government has passed questionable things in regards to the LGBTQA+ community, including cutting the funding for LGBT+ charities and Mr Cameron’s appointment of Caroline Dinenage as Equalities Minister, someone who voted AGAINST the marriage equality act.
I think De Montfort University are hiding their main reasoning for giving him this award. It’s not because of their respect for David Cameron’s support of same-sex marriage (which only seemed to appear in 2011 after years of being a supporter of “traditional family values”), but more so the fact that they could go to 10 Downing Street, show off their “liberal” side, and get their names in the papers. Their lack of consultation with the student body (where both the LGBT+ Society’s Chairperson, Tim Deves, and the university’s LGBTQ+ representative, Daniel Murgatroyd, weren’t informed) shows this, as no LGBTQA+ supporting student in their right mind would deem Mr Cameron worthy of this award.
I have stuck up for De Montfort University since I first arrived at their campus; their constant support of equality and LGBTQA+ rights and listening to their students’ concerns were two of the reasons why I loved studying there. This time, however, they have been nothing short of a disappointment, putting their bragging rights and one-upmanship over the ideals of its students, and the very community in which they so heavily support.
A.N – Please read and sign the DMU LGBT+ society’s petition!