‘Foreign Ideology’: Poland’s Populists Target LGBT Rights

‘Foreign Ideology’: Poland’s Populists Target LGBT Rights

Poland’s governing Law and Justice party used to get political mileage out of vilifying refugees. Now it has its sights on the LGBT community.

Around 30 masked men threw eggs and yelled abuse as hundreds of people marched behind a police cordon in the southeastern Polish city of Rzeszow.

Undeterred, the marchers waved rainbow flags and held up placards demanding that LGBT couples be allowed to marry and adopt. Others led chants calling for an end to discrimination.

The June 22 event was the city’s second-ever Equality Parade celebrating LGBT rights — and organisers had expected counter-protests. But they said the real battle was to be allowed to stage the parade at all.

More than 20 cities and towns across Poland are holding Equality Parades this year, four of them for the first time, despite vilification of LGBT activists by the governing Law and Justice party (PiS).

Anti-LGBT rhetoric was a big PiS campain theme in the run-up to European Parliament elections in May, with the party disparaging LGBT rights as foreign ideas harmful to traditional values in Poland, a Catholic country.

Now rights groups say the nationalist-populist PiS is doubling down on anti-LGBT venom as parliamentary and presidential elections loom this year and next.

Activists say the back story to the Rzeszow parade was a tale of discrimination and intimidation that is being played out across the country.

When organisers first submitted a request to march in the city of 200,000 people, PiS city councillors wasted no time in proposing a resolution to outlaw the event along with what they called “the promotion of LGBT ideology”.

Before long, applications to hold counter-demonstrations flooded in — 29 in all — prompting Rzeszow Mayor Tadeusz Ferenc from the opposition Democratic Left Alliance to ban the event on the grounds of security.

Parade organiser Patrycja Pawlak-Kaminska said the ban was unjustified since the march had gone ahead last year despite a similar number of requests for counter-protests.

“But this year, we had a witch hunt against LGBT people in the [EU] electoral campaign, the same way they [PiS] previously went after refugees…. The ban was a political declaration.”

Organisers took the issue to court and a judge overturned the ban, ruling that the mayor should have taken action to prevent violence rather than prohibiting the parade.

But the verdict did not stop PiS city councillors pushing for their resolution against “LGBT ideology”.

“The city council remains critical of any attempts by LGBT circles to intrusively impose an ideology that undermines the fundamental importance of the values of family and culture in our society,” said the draft resolution proposed by PiS.

During a heated city council session, supporters of the resolution disrupted the meeting to hang a banner reading “Stop deviations”.

The resolution was eventually defeated by a margin of two votes. Counter-protesters at the Rzeszow Equality Parade gather under a flag associated with Polish far-right group the National-Radical Camp. Photo: EPA-EFE/ Darek Delmanowicz. Emerging pattern

Equality Parades have taken place in Poland’s biggest cities since the 2000s. Warsaw Mayor Lech Kaczynski, twin brother of PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski, banned parades in 2004 and 2005 and his counterpart in Poznan did likewise in 2005. Since then, parades have spread to other cities without much opposition from officials.

That changed last autumn, however, when the mayor of Lublin prohibited a parade in the eastern city. This spring, the mayor of the central city of Gniezno took a similar step, followed by Ferenc in Rzeszow.

Meanwhile, public petitions have demanded that towns and cities across Poland stop the marches. City councillors, many from PiS, have often led the chorus of condemnation while far-right groups have organised counter-protests.

The result is increased pressure on mayors to outlaw parades, and several mayors are now considering bans.

In May, during the Tricity Equality Parade in the Gdansk-Gdynia-Sopot metropolitan area on the Baltic Sea, a feminist group organised a mock religious ceremony, holding a sign of a painted vagina with a crown, representing the holy sacrament that Catholic priests carry on Corpus Christi day.

The event sparked fury. The prosecutor’s office received complaints against the women and even liberal commentators criticised them for offending religious feelings. Proponents of further prohibitions on Equality Parades cite the incident as proof that LGBT marchers mean trouble.

In Lublin, Gniezno and Rzeszow, courts reversed the bans, invoking freedom of expression and association and the fact that authorities can rely on the police to prevent confrontations.

But LGBT activists say the environment is getting more toxic. We are simply the next fuel to burn before the elections, after the refugees, the Jews, judges or teachers.

– Parade organiser Jakub Gawron “The main reason for these bans is pressure from the central government and the campaign in the right-wing media,” Jakub Gawron, one of the organisers of the Rzeszow parade, told BIRN.

“Equality marches in Lublin and Gniezno were banned by mayors from the neo-liberal Civic Platform, for whom LGBT+ rights were never a priority. For their peace of mind, these people succumbed to the pressure and banned the marches, covering themselves with security concerns.”

He continued: “The mayors don’t follow a specific strategy, but the central government surely does. For PiS, we are simply the next fuel to burn before the elections, after the refugees, the Jews, judges or teachers.

“Government propaganda presents us as potential paedophiles who want to teach children to masturbate in schools and PiS as the defender of children, which allows them to collect votes. Unfortunately, this affects ordinary people.”

Gawron said that the rhetoric of PiS and right-wing media even had an impact on people close to him, with some becoming suddenly intolerant after years of accepting his sexual orientation.

“I recently got an email from someone very close to me, full of stereotypes, repeated without thinking from the state TV, and simply cold revulsion.” Rzeszow Equality Parade participants hold a banner saying ‘Hands off our children’, an ironic play on public statements about protecting Polish children from gay adoption by PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski. Photo: EPA-EFE/ Darek Delmanowicz. ‘Polish values’

With local elections last October, European Parliament elections in May, national parliamentary polls this autumn and presidential elections in 2020, Polish politicians have been in campaigning mode for over a year.

Opposition candidates won mayoral seats in many of Poland’s biggest cities last autumn, including Rafal Trzaskowski from the centrist opposition Civic Platform (PO) in Warsaw.

A young politician and former member of the European Parliament, Trzaskowski was keen to signal his difference from his PO predecessor, whose reputation had been tarnished by an illegal property restitution scandal.

Soon after taking office, Trzaskowski signed an “LGBT+ Declaration”, prepared in cooperation with LGBT rights groups. It included commitments by the municipality to combat hatred and violence against LGBT people, provide sex education in schools, offer shelter to persecuted LGBT people and promote equality.

As part of these commitments, Trzaskowski acted as patron of the Warsaw Equality Parade in June, a first for a Warsaw mayor.

“Everyone should respect the rights of minorities,” he told BIRN. “I promised that I would fight for Warsaw to be a place for everyone, that I would stand by everyone who is excluded and marginalised: disabled people, homeless, gay, lesbian or those thinking differently.

“Sadly, Poland today is not a model of tolerance and equality. We have a lot of work ahead of us.”

A defence of “traditional Polish values” has always been a key part of PiS’ appeal among socially conservative voters. Back in 2015, the party came to power railing against the threat allegedly posed by refugees and Muslim migrants to Polish and Christian values. Obviously, this is connected to a certain ideology, philosophy, which emerged earlier in the West

– PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski During campaigning for May’s European parliamentary elections, PiS found itself neck-and-neck with a broad liberal coalition including Trzaskowski’s PO, agrarians, greens and others. Against this backdrop, PiS leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski seized on the LGBT+ Declaration.

The party started using a logo showing an umbrella labelled “PiS” protecting a family with two children from rainbow rain. (Used by ultraconservative groups in other countries, the logo was a perfect match for PiS, whose signature policy is direct money transfers to families with children.)

“We have a big problem: […] an attack on the family and one carried out in the worst possible way, because it is in fact an attack on children,” Kaczynski declared in a speech in March in Katowice.

Arguing that the LGBT+ Declaration had a hidden agenda to promote adoption by gay couples, he said: “Hands off our children!”

In a speech the following month, Kaczynski elaborated on the alleged “foreign” roots of the LGBT movement.

“This whole LGBT movement, all of this together … all of this movement questions all our affinities,” he said.

“Obviously, this is connected to a certain ideology, philosophy, which emerged earlier in the West. All of this is imported into Poland. These are not internal Polish mechanisms, but they really threaten today our identity. They threaten our nation, its continuation and the Polish state.” Warsaw Equality Parade. Photo EPA-EFE/ Radek Pietruszka. ‘Politics of fear’ In May, police arrested feminist activist Elzbieta Podlesna in the central town of Plock for putting up posters depicting Black Madonna, a famous Polish icon of the Virgin Mary, with a rainbow halo. The charge was offending religious sentiment, a crime in Poland.Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski, a PiS member, praised the arrest and criticised what he called “the desecration of the image of Our Lady, which has been considered sacred by Poles for centuries”.The same month, an explosive documentary on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church was released online, just two weeks before the European parliamentary elections.Many expected the documentary to hurt PiS, which has been closely associated with the conservative wing of the Catholic Church for years.But Kaczynski parried the threat by drawing on his earlier rhetoric of a Polish nation — and Polish children in particular — under attack from deviant foreign ideas.“We never tolerated such phenomena, such pathologies in any field – also in the sphere of the Church – and we will never tolerate them,” he said after the documentary was released, promising tougher penalties for serious crimes like paedophilia.“Whoever wants to attack and destroy the Polish nation, they first attack the Catholich Church.”Conservative voters duly rallied around the party.“PiS were very smart,” Agnieszka Graff, a feminist scholar at the American Studies Center at Warsaw University, told BIRN. “The attack on LGBT was triggered by the Declaration, but that was just a welcome excuse.“The attack was strategically aimed at one audience: the rural traditional electorate of the [agrarian] Peasant Party [PSL]. The point was to convince these people that only by voting for PiS can they be truly faithful to their values, because their old party is now marching under the rainbow flag. The entry of PSL into the anti-PiS coalition made them vulnerable to this attack. And it worked.”Graff continued: “Last time, PiS won elections through hate-mongering about refugees. That topic is […]

GoFundMe Removes Rugby Star’s Donation Page After He’s Fired for His LGBT Views

GoFundMe Removes Rugby Star’s Donation Page After He’s Fired for His LGBT Views

When Australian rugby star Israel Folau’s team contract was terminated after he voiced the principles of his Christian faith, he turned to GoFundMe Australia to crowdsource funds for his legal action against Rugby Australia.

Three days later, the popular fundraising platform took down his page with plans to refund all donors.

“As a company, we are absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity,” GoFundMe Australia manager Nicola Britton said, according to The Guardian .

After his fundraising page was shut down, a “non-party partisan, non-denominational” group called Australian Christian Lobby reached out to Folau with the opportunity to host his fundraiser and donated $100,000 to the cause. The fundraiser raised over $1.5 million as of noon Tuesday.

Folau, a former Wallabies player, had his $4 million contract with the Australian rugby team terminated in early April after he posted a meme on Instagram that reads: “Warning drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists, idolaters, Hell awaits you. Repent! Only Jesus saves.”

On June 6, Folau’s legal representatives confirmed that he filed a lawsuit to the Australian Fair Work Commission, claiming his contract was unlawfully terminated because of his religious beliefs.

On June 21, Folau went to Instagram again to post the link to a GoFundMe campaign he had started to fund the lawsuit, soliciting his followers to support his legal battle. He shared that he and his wife, Maria, had already spent $100,000 on his case.

“So far Maria and I have used over $100K of our savings and I am willing to do what it takes for this cause. But to continue I need to prioritise funding for my legal case,” Folau said in the post, adding: To those who believe in the right to practise religion without fear of discrimination in the workplace, here is my ask: Stand with me. I’ve put the link in my bio. If you can and choose to donate, thank you from the bottom of my heart and God bless. #standwithizzy Three days after the Instagram post, GoFundMe Australia removed Folau’s page Monday morning. The page had received $750,000 in pledges as of Sunday night.

Britton said the page was removed because it violated GoFundMe’s terms of service.

“After a routine period of evaluation, we have concluded that this campaign violates our terms of service,” Britton said to The Guardian.

She added that the crowdsourcing platform exists “to help people help others,” and that “while we welcome GoFundMes engaging in diverse civil debate, we do not tolerate the promotion of discrimination or exclusion.”

GoFundMe did not respond to The Daily Signal’s requests for comment.

Trump observes marriage equality anniversary by speaking to anti-LGBT crowd

Trump observes marriage equality anniversary by speaking to anti-LGBT crowd

President Donald Trump speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition Road to Majority Conference on June 26. (Screen capture via C-Span) The date of June 26 is remembered with reverence in the LGBT community because it marks the anniversary of a trio of major LGBT rights decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, including the 2015 ruling for marriage equality nationwide.

This year, the date marks the fourth anniversary of the Obergefell decision, the sixth anniversary of decisions against the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8, and the 16th anniversary of Lawrence v. Texas, which overturned state sodomy laws.

But President Trump on this day instead talked about his efforts to protect “religious freedom,” a term often used among conservatives to mean anti-LGBT discrimination, at the “Road to Majority” conference hosted by the Faith & Freedom Coalition just hours before he’d depart for Japan for the G20 summit.

“When I asked for your support in 2016, Americans of faith were under assault,” Trump said. “But the shameful attempt to suppress religious believers ended the day I took the oath of office.”

Instead of rulings for LGBT rights, Trump brought up two Supreme Court decisions that played favorably with his audience.

“Exactly one year ago today in a five-to-four decision,” Trump said, the Supreme Court “upheld the First Amendment rights” of the National Institute of Family & Life. The case involved a pregnancy center that sought to refuse to tell patients about abortion options despite a California law compelling them to do so.

Trump also noted just last week, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 the peace cross should be allowed to stand on public land “in a beautiful memorial in Maryland, which honors our heroes of World War One in the form of a cross.”

“It’s so integral and it takes up such an important place in that whole state and they wanted to rip it down,” Trump added.

Trump, in part, took credit for those decisions, asserting he’d soon nominate his 145 judicial nominee “who will interpret the Constitution” as written and touting his picks of U.S. Associate Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Trump made no mention of the four-year anniversary of the Obergefell decision, or the milestones of any of the other LGBT rights cases coming before the court, during the entire day as LGBT rights supporters took the occasion to remember pioneers like the late Edith Windsor, the “mother of marriage equality” who filed the lawsuit against DOMA.

Favorable words on marriage equality would likely not fare well with the Faith & Freedom Coalition, whose founder, Ralph Reed, once compared marriage equality to the 1857 Dred Scott decision that held slaves were property and cannot sue the state.

“Only six of them, six out of those 17, six out of 50 states, had done it by referendum or by state legislature,” Reed said in 2014. “In every other case, it was imposed by courts. Just like the courts had to impose Dred Scott. Because they couldn’t do it on the country because the country didn’t agree with it. The country, by the way, doesn’t agree with same-sex marriage.”

According to Trump aides, Trump supports same-sex marriage and has supported it since before he entered office. Judd Deere, a White House spokesperson, said as much recently in a quote in a Washington Post article on Trump’s anti-LGBT record.

“President Donald Trump is the first U.S. president to favor same-sex marriage when he was sworn in, absolutely opposes discrimination of any kind, and supports the equal treatment of all,” Deere was quoted as saying.

After Trump recognized Pride month in a recent tweet, Kellyanne Conway told reporters at the White House he came into office “to start as president for approving of gay marriage” and “that’s something that he should be lauded for in history.”

(That’s likely a reference to a comment he made on “60 Minutes” in 2016, when Trump told Leslie Stahl he’s “fine” with same-sex marriage and considers the issue “settled” as a legal matter.)

But the White House didn’t respond to the Washington Blade’s request to comment on whether Trump had any thoughts on the fourth anniversary of the Obergefell decision. The Blade tried to get a question in with Trump during his brief gaggle on the South Lawn before he left for Japan, but was ignored.

If Trump supports same-sex marriage, he has a funny way of showing it. His administration has built an anti-LGBT record that includes policies such as the transgender military ban, anti-LGBT discrimination in the name of religious freedom, opposition to the Equality Act and refusal to accept LGBT people as covered under current federal civil rights law.

Evan Wolfson, who founded and led Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples, told the Blade weeks ago he doesn’t accept Trump’s support for same-sex marriage based on that record.

“I’ve always said that much more important than what politicians think is what they do,” Wolfson said. “Actions speak louder than words and that’s particularly true with a liar such as Trump, whose words are worth nothing. Whatever occasional feelings of indifference or support he may periodically have or express, he has appointed judges and officials attacking the couples and trying to roll back protections he and another liar, Kellyanne Conway, today want credit for being fine with.”

But Trump rattled off a few of these anti-LGBT actions before the Faith & Freedom Coalition crowd, who hailed him during his speech and at one point chanted, “Four more years! Four more years!”

“My administration has taken historic action to protect religious liberty,” Trump said. “We’re protecting the conscience rights of doctors and nurses and teachers and groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor. We’re with them.”

That could be a reference to Trump’s executive order allowing groups like Little Sisters of the Poor to get out of the contraception mandate under Obamacare, as well as a recent right of refusal rule from HHS permitting medical practitioners to refuse to perform procedures with which they have religious objections, such as abortion or gender reassignment surgery.

“We’re preserving our country vital’s tradition of faith-based adoption,” Trump said. (The Department of Health & Human Services gave a waiver to the taxpayer-funded Miracle Hill Ministries to engage in discrimination in family placement, and Axios reports the Trump administration seeks to rescind the Obama-era rule barring anti-gay discrimination among recipients of federal funds altogether.)

Reminding his audience “this could all change very quickly” and “the one person in this office can change that very quickly,” Trump urged them to stick with him as he emphasized the importance — or unimportance — of the 2020 election in a word salad.

“The election coming up is in certain ways maybe is going to be as important, I can’t say more important, but as important as the election of 2016,” Trump said. “In certain ways, it could be more important.”

Charlotte Clymer, a transgender advocate and spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, said in response to Trump’s speech “this White House has, in myriad ways, made our society more dangerous and unwelcome for LGBTQ people.”

“It is hardly surprising that Trump would pick the day of the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage four years ago and the week of the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots launching the modern LGBTQ rights movement to lend credibility to an anti-LGBTQ group whose founder compared the Supreme Court’s ruinous decision in the Dred Scott case to the landmark ruling for marriage equality,” Clymer said. “Trump and Pence have made plain how they feel about LGBTQ people.”

Transgender hate crimes recorded by police goes up 81%

Transgender hate crimes recorded by police goes up 81%

The figures were gathered by a BBC freedom of information request, with 36 out of 44 police forces responding The number of transgender hate crimes recorded by police forces in England, Scotland and Wales has risen by 81%, latest figures suggest.

Data obtained by the BBC showed there were 1,944 crimes across 36 forces in the last financial year compared with 1,073 in 2016-17.

The Stonewall charity said it showed the "consequences of a society where transphobia is everywhere".

The Home Office said it was "committed to tackling hate crime".

Some 36 out of 44 police forces in England, Scotland and Wales fully responded to a BBC freedom of information request for their most up to date figures. Eight forces did not provide the full data.

West Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Police saw reporting of transgender hate crimes more than treble over three years.

Suffolk Constabulary and Merseyside Police were the only forces which recorded fewer crimes in 2018-19 than in 2016-17. Sue Pascoe was flagged as a vulnerable person by police due to the number of threats she was receiving Sue Pascoe, who lives near York, was flagged as a vulnerable person by North Yorkshire Police for the amount of transgender hate abuse and threats she had received.

"It’s a sad fact of life that this abuse is going to happen and I’ll challenge it whenever it does," she said. Transgender no longer ranked as ‘disorder’

The pilot who changed gender at 58

Why do young people love to hate?

"The trend for the last five years is nothing but going up and those divisions are in our society generally. For me it’s one of the scariest times I’ve lived through and I’m 59 now." West Yorkshire Police is currently running a campaign to help prevent hate crime Equal rights charity Stonewall estimated that two in five trans people had experienced a hate crime or incident in the past year.

Andi Woolford, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, works in social housing and was abused while she was sitting in her car.

"A guy came out of a block of flats, called me a paedophile, threatened to stab me, smashed my car up, held a dog chain up to my face, just really unbelievable."

"Given what’s happening on the other side of the Atlantic and the divisions with Brexit, everything seems to be kind of tribal – oh you’re not in my tribe so therefore I must hate you." Andi Woolford says she was targeted while she was at work Laura Russell, from Stonewall, said: "These statistics are the real life consequences of a society where transphobia is everywhere – from the front pages of newspapers, to social media, and on our streets.

"We need people to realise how severe the situation is for trans people, and to be active in standing up as a visible ally to trans people, in whatever way they can." What is hate crime?

A hate crime is defined as "any criminal offence which is perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by a hostility or prejudice" based on one of five categories: religion, faith or belief; race, ethnicity or nationality; sexual orientation; disability; or gender identity.

Source: Crown Prosecution Service Det Ch Con Julie Cooke, from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said: "Traditionally, transphobic hate crimes have been significantly under-reported but we are working closely with trans groups to increase awareness and understanding of our staff; as well as to build confidence and trust in the police by the trans community.

"We believe some of the increase may be down to better reporting, however, there is always more that can be done."

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Abuse or violence directed at someone on the basis of their transgender identity is never acceptable.

"That’s why we are committed to tackling hate crime in all its forms, including abuse targeted at transgender people, through the government’s hate crime action plan."

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt unveil new pledges in leadership race

Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt unveil new pledges in leadership race

Tory leadership rivals Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt have unveiled pledges on immigration and education.

Frontrunner Mr Johnson has promised to deliver an Australian-style points-based immigration system if he becomes prime minister.

And Foreign Secretary Mr Hunt said he would cancel the tuition fee debts of young entrepreneurs who start businesses and employ people.

The winner of the contest will take over from Theresa May on 24 July. Compare the candidates

Who chooses the next PM?

No-deal Brexit: What you need to know

Johnson’s ‘deal or no deal’ challenge to Hunt

In the Conservative Party digital hustings, broadcast on the party’s Facebook page and on Twitter on Wednesday evening, Mr Johnson said he was "open to talent, open to immigration" but he said it "should be controlled".

He called for an Australian-style-points-based system, considering factors including whether an immigrant has a firm job offer before arrival and their ability to speak English.

Mr Johnson said he would also block the ability to claim benefits immediately when someone arrives in the UK.

"We must be much more open to high-skilled immigration such as scientists, but we must also assure the public that, as we leave the EU, we have control over the number of unskilled immigrants coming into the country," he said.

This would restore public faith and democratic control in the immigration system, while being "tougher on those who abuse our hospitality", he added.

The Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill is currently at report stage and contains plans to end the existing automatic preference for EU citizens.

However, the Bill does not set out what the new immigration system will look like from 2021, and a consultation to shape this is not due to report back to Parliament until the end of this year. ‘Turbo-charge our economy’

Under Mr Hunt’s new proposal, anyone who creates a new business which employs more than 10 people for five years would have their university tuition fee debts written off.

Mr Hunt, who has stressed his background as an entrepreneur, said he wanted to give young people the confidence to go into business for themselves.

"If we are to turbo-charge our economy and take advantage of Brexit, we need to back the young entrepreneurs who take risks and create jobs," he said.

"I started my own business, I still use the lessons that experience taught me – focus, drive and the art of negotiation – every single day.

"I want more young people to have the confidence to take the decision to start their own business, so we create wealth and start thriving as a country again." Spending promises

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has estimated that Mr Hunt’s proposals, including a corporation tax cut and an increase in defence spending, would cost a total of between £37-£68bn .

It concluded the foreign secretary’s plans would leave no scope to relieve the pressure on other spending departments without tax rises or risking higher borrowing.

The IFS also analysed Mr Johnson’s tax plan , which includes increasing the threshold for the highest rate of income tax, and concluded it would cost "many billions" and benefit the wealthy most.

Meanwhile, Mr Hunt spoke for the first time about the death of his sister in a "terrible accident" when he was only two years old.

"I was too young to ever remember it but I do know it affected my parents," he told ITV’s Peston.

"I wouldn’t claim this is something that had a big emotional affect on me personally." Compare the candidates’ policies and careers

Select a topic and a candidate to find out more BREXIT

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

Would leave the EU with no deal, but it’s not his preferred option.

Wants changes to the Irish backstop and proposes sending a new negotiating team to Brussels.

Wants to make changes to the withdrawal agreement and thinks it’s possible to get them done by 31 October, but has not ruled out an extension.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

Wants to leave on 31 October, the deadline for Brexit set by the EU, with or without a deal.

Says he wants to leave on the basis of a new withdrawal agreement negotiated with the EU, with the backstop removed and replaced with "alternative arrangements".

If this is not possible, he says he would ask the EU to agree to a "standstill period" during which the UK could negotiate a free trade deal with the bloc.

Failing this, he says the UK must be prepared to leave on World Trade Organization (WTO) terms if required, and the country would "get ready for that outcome".

Says he would demonstrate "creative ambiguity" over when the UK will pay the £39bn "divorce" payment it is due to give the EU as part of the negotiated deal. He has also said the money should be retained until there is "greater clarity about the way forward".

TAX AND SPENDING

Jeremy Hunt
Foreign Secretary

As an entrepreneur, he wants to turn Britain into "the next Silicon Valley… a hub of innovation".

Pledges to slash business taxes to the lowest in Europe to attract firms to Britain after Brexit and reduce corporation tax to 12.5%.

Wants to boost defence spending by £15bn over the next five years.

Boris Johnson
Backbencher

Pledges to cut income tax for people earning more than £50,000 by raising the 40% tax threshold to £80,000.

Plans to pay for the reported £9.6bn annual cost of the cut in part from a pot set aside by the Treasury for a possible no-deal Brexit, and in part by increasing employee National Insurance payments. However he says his tax proposals will begin by "lifting thresholds for those on lowest pay". Pledges to "find the money" to recruit an extra 20,000 police officers over an as-yet unspecified period. Promises to speed up the delivery of "full fibre" internet connection, with the super-fast service available to all by 2025, eight years earlier than currently planned. HEALTH AND EDUCATION Jeremy Hunt Foreign Secretary Says there should be an automatic system for people to save for their social care costs in old age "in the same way they save for their pension". He says people should be able to opt out of the scheme, and the government would cap costs for those who "save responsibly" during their lives. Mental health support in every school and a crackdown on social media companies that fail to regulate their content. A cut in interest rate paid on tuition fees. Long-term plan to provide more funding for the teaching profession in return for a guarantee that no one leaves the education system without a "rigorous qualification" sufficient to work up to at least the average salary. Wants to transform the education system to abolish illiteracy. Boris Johnson Backbencher Promises to raise spending on secondary school pupils to £5,000 each. Called the funding gap between some schools in cities compared with those in rural areas a "disturbing reality". Has previously said money spent on the EU could be put into the NHS. Says more should be spent on social care, according to a cross-party "national consensus". CAREER Jeremy Hunt Foreign Secretary The foreign secretary campaigned to remain in the EU during the 2016 referendum, but has since been reborn as a Brexiteer. He even suggested, to widespread criticism, that the EU was like the Soviet Union. However, he has said his party would be committing "political suicide" if it tried to push through a no-deal Brexit. Mr Hunt, who attended Charterhouse school and Oxford University, has been an MP for South West Surrey since 2005. He was made culture secretary under the coalition government in 2010 and oversaw the 2012 London Olympics before becoming health secretary. In 2018, he became the longest-serving health secretary, and arguably one of the most controversial, since the NHS was created, completing six years in the role. During his tenure, he clashed with unions over contracts for junior doctors, who took part in a series of walkouts in 2015. Boris Johnson Backbencher The 55-year-old Eton and Oxford-educated former political journalist has coveted the top job for many years, but was beaten to No 10 by his contemporary David Cameron. After eight years as mayor of London, he returned to Parliament as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip in 2015. A leading Brexiteer, Mr Johnson had been at odds with Theresa May’s Brexit vision for some time before he eventually quit as foreign secretary in protest last year. Polls suggest he is a popular figure with members of the wider Conservative party. Each candidate is vying for the votes of the 160,000 or so Conservative Party members who will vote for the next party leader and therefore prime minister.The rivals used the digital hustings to set out some of their plans: On Brexit Mr Hunt said if the UK gets to October without the prospect of deal, "we will leave without a deal".Mr Johnson also repeated his pledge to get the UK out of the EU on 31 October, but he thinks the chances of a no-deal Brexit happening are a "million to one". On an election Mr Hunt said it was essential the Conservatives had delivered Brexit before a general election, otherwise the party "will be thrashed".Asked about proroguing Parliament, Mr Johnson said: "It would be absolutely crazy for any of us to think of going to the country and calling a general election before we get Brexit done."When pushed, he added: "I’m not attracted to archaic devices like proroguing." On trade rules Mr Hunt dismissed rival Mr Johnson’s claims that a mechanism known as Gatt 24 could be used to prevent tariffs if there was a no-deal Brexit.He said: "I think we’ve got to knock this Gatt 24 thing on the head. You can only get an agreement not to introduce tariffs if both sides agree to that." No-deal Brexit: What you need to know On EU citizens’ rights Mr Hunt said he would give full citizens’ rights to the three million EU nationals living in the UK, even if the UK left without a deal.Mr Johnson said he was "absolutely in favour" of protecting the rights of EU citizens in the UK. Infrastructure The foreign secretary said he would back both the third runway at Heathrow and the HS2 high-speed rail link.Mr Johnson said it had to be recognised that there was "huge pressure" on the south east, so more infrastructure was needed. Healthcare Mr Johnson said the NHS would be "free to everybody at the point of use" under his premiership.He ruled out a pay-for-access NHS, even as a result of a post-Brexit trade deal with the US.Westminster’s public spending watchdog, the public accounts committee, said NHS recruitment and school funding must be the first priorities of the new prime minister, warning that Brexit […]

US Democrats to clash in high stakes TV debate

US Democrats to clash in high stakes TV debate

Ten Democratic candidates will battle soon in the first TV debate of the race to oust President Donald Trump from the White House next year.

Elizabeth Warren, a liberal firebrand who has been gaining momentum, will take centre stage at the primetime forum in Miami, Florida.

The debate will offer much-needed political oxygen to underdogs such as Cory Booker and Beto O’Rourke.

Ten other Democrats in the crowded field will face off on Thursday night. Five things to watch for in Democratic debates

Millions of voters are expected to tune in for America’s biggest political debates in years. The first begins at 21:00 (01:00 GMT) on Wednesday and lasts two hours. Who’s first up?

Ms Warren, a Massachusetts senator, will be looking to cement her surge in opinion polls after unveiling a plethora of policy proposals such as free universal healthcare, higher taxes on the rich and breaking up tech giants.

"This is just a chance," she said on Tuesday in Miami, "to be able to talk to people all across this country about how this government works better and better and better for a thinner and thinner slice at the top, and it’s just not working for the rest of America."

The other nine candidates on stage will be hoping to grab some crucial limelight, possibly by taking aim at pack leaders such as Ms Warren. The key issues for 2020 Democrats

How do you win the US presidency?

Mr Booker won airtime last week when he pilloried Democratic front-runner Joe Biden for touting his work with segregationists decades ago in the Senate.

But the New Jersey senator has so far failed to break into the top tier.

Mr O’Rourke became a liberal golden boy during an unsuccessful Senate bid last year, but the former congressman’s White House hopes have so far fizzled.

On stage, too, will be former Obama housing secretary Julian Castro, the only Latino in the race; New York Mayor Bill de Blasio; Representatives Tulsi Gabbard and Tim Ryan; Washington state Governor Jay Inslee; and former congressman John Delaney.

Currently also-rans, they all fall below one per cent in opinion polls.

All 20 main candidates need to demonstrate they have the electoral viability and political grit to defeat the Republican president. Where will the president be?

Mr Trump, who is running for a second year in office, has said he will watch the debate aboard Air Force One as he flies to Japan for a G20 summit.

"Yes, everyone said I’ll be tweeting," he told Fox Business Network.

He added: "Do I want to watch it? Do I want to watch these people? That’s a very unexciting group of people."

He also jabbed at his leading challenger.

"Biden is a lost soul," Mr Trump said. "He doesn’t know where he is." Who will take on Trump?

Choose your candidate and filter by category Who debates on second night?

Two big beasts of the Democratic political jungle, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, will offer competing visions for America on Thursday night.

Mr Biden, a former US vice-president making his third White House bid, is a pragmatic centrist who has been recovering from gaffes and about-turns.

Snapping at his heels is Mr Sanders, a Democratic socialist who is promising a "political revolution" of economic populism, including free healthcare for all and paying off America’s $1.6tn student debt mountain.

Youthful mayor Pete Buttigieg, whose dark horse campaign has been rocked by the police shooting of a black man in his home city of South Bend, Indiana, will also be closely watched. How to pitch yourself to Iowa voters in five minutes Senator Kamala Harris, the only black woman in the race; Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who has campaigned on women’s issues; and entrepreneur Andrew Yang will also be jockeying for attention.

The line-up for both nights was chosen at random by debate host NBC.

The challenge for the Democratic contenders will be to shine in a field that is largely aligned in opposition to Mr Trump on hot-button issues such as immigration and climate change.

But there are divisions among them on other thorny topics like whether the president should be impeached, or how to tackle America’s healthcare system.

The eventual Democratic White House nominee will be crowned at the party convention in July next year, before the presidential election in November. Read more about the other candidates

What’s different for Bernie Sanders this time?

Why Biden is the favourite to take on Trump

How young gay mayor became a Democratic star

Kamala Harris and the rise of California

Is O’Rourke the heir to Obama?

Prince William Says He Would ‘Fully Support’ His Children If They Were Gay

Prince William Says He Would 'Fully Support' His Children If They Were Gay

Prince William told reporters that he would “ fully support” any of his children if they came out as LGBTQ.

The royal made the comments during his first visit to the Albert Kennedy Trust (AKT) , a charity for homeless LGBTQ youths, in London on Wednesday. The charity said it was the first time a member of the royal family visited an LGBTQ youth charity.

During the visit, a man asked the royal “If your child one day in the future said, ‘Oh I’m gay, oh I’m lesbian,’ whatever, how would you react,” according to the Daily Mail.

William said that it would be “absolutely fine by me”, though he noted that there might be “backlash” that would worry him. Prince William with his family. “The one thing I’d be worried about is how they – particularly the roles my children fill – is how that is going to be interpreted and seen,” the prince said, as reported by The Telegraph .

“It worries me, not because of them being gay, it worries me as to how everyone else will react and perceive it and then the pressure is then on them,” he said, adding that he’d spoken to the Duchess of Cambridge about the very same thing.

“I think communication is so important with everything, in order to help understand it you’ve got to talk a lot about stuff and make sure how to support each other and how to go through the process,” William added. The Duke of Cambridge speaks to former and current service users during a visit to the Albert Kennedy Trust in London to learn about the issue of LGBTQ youth homelessness in London on June 26. Last year, the queen’s cousin, Lord Ivar Mountbatten, married his partner, James Coyle, at his country estate in Devon. It was the royal family’s first same-sex wedding.

Coyle came out as gay two years ago. His ex-wife and mother of their three children gave him away at the ceremony.

“I loved Penny when we were married, as I still do very much, and I loved our family unit,” Mountbatten told the Daily Mail in a 2018 interview . “I never thought this would happen. It’s brilliant, but I never thought I’d marry a man.”

Prince William says it’d be ‘absolutely fine’ if any of his children come out

Prince William says it'd be 'absolutely fine' if any of his children come out

Most LGBTI Americans welcome police at Pride parades Prince William chatting to akt young ambassadors | Photo: Jamie Scoular / akt While visiting the LGBTI youth homelessness charity, Albert Kennedy Trust (akt) , Prince William answered a reporter’s question about his response if any of his children ever came out .

The Duke of Cambridge visited the organization on Wednesday (26 June) to mark 50 years since the Stonewall riots. He was also there to officially open the charity’s new center.

‘Ahead of the annual Pride in London parade, the Duke of Cambridge visited [akt] to learn about the issue of LGBTQ+ youth homelessness and the positive change that akt are enacting through their unique prevention and early action approach,’ the Kensington Palace Twitter account wrote.

Rebecca English, the Royal Correspondent for the Daily Mail, tweeted about Prince William’s visit, including his responses to reporter questions. A fear of ‘backlash’

When a reporter asked if Prince William would support his children coming out as LGBTI, he responded : ‘Absolutely fine by me.’

His answer didn’t end there, however.

Prince William continued, acknowledging a fear of ‘backlash’ his children would receive for their position.

‘It worries me, not because of them being gay, it worries me as to how everyone else will react and perceive it and then the pressure is on them,’ he said.

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, have three children — Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.

Throughout his time in the public eye, Prince William has spoken openly about bullying and supporting the LGBTI community. In 2017, he won the Celebrity Straight Ally award at the British LGBT Awards and used the platform to give a speech on bullying.

He also became the first member of Royal Family to appear on the cover of a gay magazine .

This year, he honored army veteran Hannah Graf with an MBE, making her the highest ranking transgender woman in the British Army. See also