One has to wonder whether the Conservative Party has really changed or not. This latest revealing comment by shadow home secretary Chris Grayling seems to me to be trying to having it both ways on gay rights. He tells a sympathetic audience what they want to hear - that he is 'on their side' and supports the right of those who maintain bed&breakfast establishments to refuse accommodation to people based on their sexuality and [that he] wanted to be "sensitive to the genuinely held principles of faith groups". Then he goes on to say he does not want to see a change in the law.
But the law, Mr Grayling, currently says [the relevant law is - the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007]: no one should be refused goods or services on the grounds of their sexuality.
Is this 'dog whistle' campaigning a warning that a future Conservative Government might seek to change the law to water down legislation to weaken the equality afforded by the law to gay people?
What I find particularly alarming is the comment made by a Conservative party spokesman that Mr Grayling had made it : "absolutely clear that in this day and age, a gay couple should not be turned away from a hotel just because they are a gay couple.". What Mr Grayling has done, and the Conservative Party spokesman has not refuted this, is to try and draw a distinction between different kinds of business offering accommodation for payment - between hotels and guest houses and/or bed&breakfast. Many establishments calling themselves hotels fulfil the dual role of being the home (and property of) the hotel-keeper. Where would such establishments fit into the world as envisaged by Mr Grayling?
I really do think the Conservative Party needs to repudiate Mr Grayling's comments clearly and unequivocally, or the suspicion will be left that the Conservative Party has not, in actual fact, changed very much at all and would not hesitate to reverse and/or weaken equality legislation if it thought it could get away with!
PS/ Mr Grayling's subsequent attempts to 'clarify' his statement only serve to 'muddy the waters' further. The current law is quite clear and Mr Grayling says he does not wish to change it. So what exactly does wishing to be 'sensitive to the genuinely held principles of faith groups' mean, Mr Grayling. What practical effect do you seek to see brought about and how can this be achieved within the current legislation, which you say you do not wish to see changed?
Why doesn't he just come out (ho! ho!) and admit that he was caught out by an undercover recording revealing his prejudices and is now trying to row-back furiously from them, whilst passing a message to religious bigots that he really does support them?
I'd be really pleased if someone could point me to any misanalysis in my article.