Theresa May

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Theresa May is the Conservative MP for Maidenhead (since 1997), leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minster of the United Kingdom (since 2016). She was Home Secretary from 2010 until 2016, and Minister for Women and Equalities from 2010 until 2012.

Drugs Policy


In July 2013, the BBC reported:

The herbal stimulant khat is to be banned by the government, against the advice of its own Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs.
In January the ACMD said khat should remain a legal substance, saying there was "insufficient evidence" it caused health problems.
But Home Secretary Theresa May has decided to ban it, saying the risks posed could have been underestimated.

2014 Home Office Report

In October 2014 the Home Office published its report "Drugs: International Comparators"[1]. The phrase that attracted headlines was "we did not in our fact-finding observe any obvious relationship between the toughness of a country's enforcement against drug possession, and levels of drug use in that country" (p.47). A few days after the publication of the report, Norman Baker resigned from his position as Minister of State at the Home Office stating "the goodwill to work collegiately to take forward rational evidence-based policy has been in somewhat short supply"[2]. In December Mr Baker indicated that three policy suggestions had at one point been proposed for inclusion in the Report, but had not been part of the final version[3].

Psychoactive Substances Act 2016

As Home Secretary, Theresa May brought the Psychoactive Substances Act through Parliament in an effort to fight against "legal highs". Numerous legal experts as well as experts on drug use have argued that the law was poorly drafted and not fit for purpose. Professor David Nutt argued that two of the substances that were the primary target of the law—alkyl nitrites (poppers) and nitrous oxide—are extremely safe and that the law represented a moral effort to undermine 'pleasure' rather than a well-thought-out attempt to reduce the harms from drug use.[4] The Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs said that the bill was unworkable and relied on an unscientific notion of psychoactivity rather than an demonstration of harm.[5]


In May 2008 in the abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (now Act), Theresa May voted for the abortion time limit to be lowered to 20 weeks against scientific and medical consensus which is currently 24 weeks[6]. After four separate parliamentary votes on varying time limits, the majority of MPs voted to keep the abortion time limit at 24 weeks, in keeping with scientific and medical consensus, hence no abortion amendments were added to the bill.

In October 2012 she indicated that the Government had no plans to change the abortion limit, although her personal view was that "possibly 20 weeks would be right".[7]

LGBT Rights

Ms May's appointment as Minister for Women and Equalities in 2010 was criticised by some members of the LGBT movement[8], as she had voted against lowering the age of consent (in 1998) and against greater adoption rights for homosexuals (in 2002), although she did vote in favour of civil partnerships (2004)[9]. Ms May later stated, during an appearance on the BBC's Question Time, that she has changed her mind on gay adoption[10]. Writing for Pink News in June 2010, Ms May clarified her proposals for improving LGBT rights including measures to tackle homophobia in sport, advocating a need for 'cultural change' in British society[11].

On 2 July 2010, Ms May stated she would be supporting the previous Labour government's anti-discrimination laws enshrined in the Equality Act 2010 though she had previously opposed this legislation[12].

In May 2012, Theresa May recorded an Out4Marriage video in support of same-sex marriage:

Ms May voted in favour of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill at both its Second Reading in February 2013[13], and at its Third Reading in May 2013[14].

Protection of Freedoms Act

As Home Secretary, Ms May was sponsor of the government's 2010-2012 Protection of Freedoms Bill (now Act): The bill included a wide range of measures including changes to Freedom of Information rights, police stops and searches under the Terrorism Act, and consensual sexual relations between men.

Saudi Arabia

Article on Home Office deals with Saudi Arabia during the period when Theresa May was Home Secretary:

UK Science

In October 2010, one of Theresa May's staff members responded to an e-mail from a constituent concerning possible cuts to the UK science budget in the forthcoming spending review[15]. The response seemed to echo much of the coalition government's line as expressed in Vince Cable's speech the previous month[16], as well as letters from a number of other Conservative MPs.

In December 2014, it was reported that Ms May was trying to get a policy adopted by the Conservative Party by which non-EU students in the UK on a student visa would be forced to leave the UK at the end of their course, rather than being given a 4-month period in which to apply for jobs and a work visa[17]. The policy was criticised by some in the science sector, e.g.:

"Pet cat" Immigrant

In a speech at the October 2011 Conservative Party conference, Ms May spoke in favour of replacing the current Human Rights Act (UK law based on the European Convention on Human Rights) with new human rights laws. During the speech May gave examples of abuses of the current law, amongst them an "illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because – and, I am not making this up – because he had a pet cat". This claim seems to have been based on a story from October 2009. However this story had been investigated several times and found to be a distortion: the joint ownership of a cat was used as one of many examples of a foreign student's shared life with his girlfriend. In fact, the defendant had initially entered the country legally as a student, and won his later deportation case on appeal because the Home Office had not applied its own policy on unmarried partners.[18][19][20]


  8. PinkNews, Analysis: How pro-gay is the new home secretary and minister for equality Theresa May?
  9. The Public Whip, Theresa May MP, Homosexuality - Equal rights
  10. BBC News "I've changed my mind on gay adoption, says Theresa May"
  11. Pink News 18 June 2010 'Theresa May says sportsmen and newspaper editors must "take action" against homophobia'. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  12. BBC News 2 July 2010 'Labour to stick with Labour's Equality Act. Retrieved 2010-07-03.

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