Why has Queen Elizabeth Remained Silent When It Comes to LGBT People?

Pier Angelo

You have to give it to the Brits. They certainly know how to put on a show.

From a funeral to a wedding; from Masterpiece Theatre, to the most recent Diamond Jubilee, they are all riveting, fascinating, engrossing.

Gay people in particular are prone to be affected by them; we love all that Campiness and Circumstance. We eat it all up. So much so that we never stop and ask some simple and basic questions.

Why has the Queen remained so out of touch with modern society when it comes to LGBT people? Even our politicians are more outspoken on the subject.

Not once, in her 60-year reign, has she publicly acknowledged the existence of the LGBT community. She hides behind the old adagio that she is "above politics.” Except when she is busy sabotaging a criminal court case to protect Charles' gay, over-eager valet.

When there are major tragedies involving the loss of life, the Queen always visits the site and the victims in hospitals but this did not happen when neo-Nazi, David Copeland, bombed the Admiral Duncan gay pub in Soho, London, in 1999, killing three people and wounding 70 others. Something that Princess Diana, for example, would have certainly done.

A few weeks ago, however, she had no problem in meeting and shaking hands with Martin McGuinness, a former provisional  IRA commander, and now deputy first minister of Northern Ireland's Catholic-Protestant power-sharing government. The monarch and McGuinness met privately inside Belfast's riverside Lyric Theatre during a cross-community arts event featuring Northern Ireland musicians, poets and artists. Apparently, former terrorists deserve, and get, more respect than her law-abiding gay subjects.

Even when she announced government plans for gay law reform in her Queen’s Speeches, she did not use the words lesbian or gay. Her silence sends a loud and clear message of exclusion that is hard to ignore. If she were still ruling India we would think that LGBT people are the British equivalent of the “untouchables.”

And this is a country where, since 2005, same-sex couples are allowed to enter into civil partnership, a separate union that provides the legal consequences of marriage.

On Sept. 21, 2010, the Liberal Democrats, the junior member in the governing coalition, became the first major political party to formally endorse same-sex marriage, when the party's conference in Liverpool approved the policy motion "Equal Marriage in the United Kingdom.”

In February 2011, the government expressed its intention to begin a consultation to allow both religious same-sex ceremonies and civil marriage for same-sex couples.

In September 2011, the government announced its intention to introduce same-sex civil marriage by the next general election.

Still, Elizabeth remained, and remains, silent. As head of state, the Queen is supposed to represent and embrace all British people, not just a few chosen ones.

As Head of the Church of England, she has also remained mum when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, accused the government of failing to think through its plans to introduce same-sex marriage, adding that the legislation would undermine the Church’s relationship with the nation.

Defenders of the monarchy point out that many royal staff are gay men. And the point is? Having gay men wait on the Queen only proves that she likes good-looking, well-mannered, well-groomed male servants. It’s the old refrain sang by rich racists claiming that they can’t be racist because they employ black staff or republican conservatives saying that some of their best friends are gay. It still does not make it right. Perhaps the Sex Pistols were not so far off the mark when they sang:

God save the queen
She ain't no human being
…our figurehead
Is not what she seems

God save the queen
The fascist regime
They made you a moron…

The song was about rebelling against British politics. A lot of young people felt alienated by the stifling rule of the old-fashioned royal monarchy.  It expressed anger toward the establishment.

Thirty-five years later we ask: “How much longer will her LGBT community have to wait for a royal nod of inclusion”?  The sad conclusion, even for an anglophile like me, is:

The Royal Family is homophobic – if not by intent, certainly by default.

But not to worry : Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (e.g. cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries, with cream, when in season. Jolly good!

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