Francis Maude to show commitment to equality agenda by allowing flag to be flown from cabinet office next month
Francis Maude is to show the government's commitment to the equality agenda by allowing the rainbow flag to be flown from the cabinet office in Whitehall during Pride week next month.
David Cameron has faced criticism for attempting to distance the Tory leadership from gay rights after declining to speak in detail about the equal marriage bill in the run up to its bumpy ride through the commons earlier this week.
But Maude intends to make clear that the government remains deeply committed to the equality agenda after authorising the flying of the Rainbow flag from the cabinet office between 25 June and 1 July. "This shows the government's commitment to the equalities message," one source said.
Maude made a personal intervention on the eve of the two day debate on the marriage (same sex couples) bill in the commons on Monday and Tuesday this week. In an article for the Daily Telegraph he wrote of how Britain, including himself, has become more liberal since the era of Margaret Thatcher.
Maude cited his family's experience. He wrote: "For me it was also a family experience that shaped my outlook. It was not by any means unique but it was a formative experience. My brother Charles, who was gay, died from AIDS in 1993.
"Society was a far less accepting place for gay men such as him. I think how much better his life would have been had there been greater acceptance of publicly acknowledged stable same-sex relationships. In the two decades since, much has changed. But I think this additional step, of extending marriage to all, is important both symbolically and practically. And it is something which most – though I appreciate not all – gay men and women want."
The prime minister spoke passionately in favour of gay marriage on Wednesday after the bill had completed its initial commons stages. He told the Today programme on Radio 4: "There will be young boys in schools today, who are gay who are worried about being bullied who are worried about what society thinks of them, who can see that the highest parliament in the land has said that their love is worth the same as anyone else's love and that we believe in equality. I think they will stand that bit taller today and I am proud of the fact that that has happened."Nicholas Watt
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