They said “Send us an FOI request” on LGBTI letter from Arlene Foster – SO I DID!
It’s no secret that on a regular basis you will see the words “whooaa! wait a minute, that’s not in-line with the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights!” appear on my timeline or pop up in a conversation I am having. In fact, many will tell you I never shut up about it!
I am one of those “true-believers” in the articles of the ECHR, someone who gets extremely annoyed when politicians or those in high society act in a manner which erodes our fundamental civil liberties. That is why when it emerged in a tweet from Marco Biagi which said “When I was a minister DUP’s Arlene Foster wrote to me asking us to curtail access of Northern Irish citizens to Scottish same-sex marriages”, I immediately went to red-alert.
Both the Irish Executive and the Scottish Government have confirmed that such a letter does exist but have also said hey will only consider releasing the letter through a Freedom of information laws. Well! two days ago, that is exactly what I did and I will hold them to the request.
The Executive and Scottish Government now have the statutory 20 day period in which to act on it pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. If an excuse is forthcoming or no response received then as someone deeply concerned, not only about the attempt to erode fundamental civil liberties but also that a party that now finds itself in a position of power, tried to influence another devolved administration in the UK, I cannot see myself backing away from it.
We have no idea about the deal being done between the Tories and the DUP at Westminster, but one thing is for sure, if the DUP get their way, they could find themselves in a position of enormous power at Westminster and with primary legislation in that parliament being the basis of legislation across the UK and Scottish Legislation being subordinate to it, the DUP have the ability to influence via the back-door, policy which protects each of the citizens of Scotland. I have no intention of the DUP being able to influence the progressive policies in Scotland in a detrimental fashion.
Those of you who follow me regularly will remember I often quote German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller as a lesson about why we should protect every civil liberty and not just the ones which effect ourselves. Thos who don’t know this quote, here it is:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
In the case of the DUP, they have some pretty radical right wing views and in this case, along with the Tories who don’t exactly have the best track record with Human Rights, I do not intend for the next person who utters these words to say “First they came for the LGBTI in our society”, because ultimately there will be other lines to the quotation that will follow.
It is not acceptable to simply wash your hands and say “This does not affect me” because, a damage to one, hurts the world entire. It is incumbent on us to fight for every civil liberty and freedom because if the are taken from us, there is no coming back.
So in short, I have made the request, I intend to follow through with the request, even if that requires taking this before a court or tribunal to enforce such a request.
A copy of the request to the Scottish Government
To whom it may concern:
Lawful Request Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act 2000
I am writing to you under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 to request the following information from the Scottish Government:
– The letter of September 2015 from DUP’s Arlene Foster to Minister Marco Biagi asking for the Scottish Government to curtail access of Northern Irish citizens to Scottish same-sex marriages.
Please provide the information in electronic form.
If it is not possible to provide the information requested due to the information exceeding the cost of compliance limits identified in Section 12, please provide advice and assistance, under your Section 16 obligations, as to how I can refine my request to be included in the scope of the Act.
In any case, if you can identify ways that my request could be refined please provide further advice and assistance to indicate this.
I look forward to your response within 20 working days, as stipulated by the Act.
If you have any queries please don’t hesitate to contact me via email or phone and I will be happy to clarify what I am asking for, my details are outlined below.
Martin James Keatings