Celebrating Pride: our LGBT politicians
By Iona Gaskell | 09 July 2017
This Pride there are some big milestones to celebrate: it's half a century since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality. It's three years since the UK voted to legalise same-sex marriage. And in the recent general election 45 openly lesbian, gay or bisexual MPs were elected, making up 7% of the House of Commons - this is a new record not just for the UK but globally.
But of course there are also daily reminders that the fight for true equality for the LGBT+ community is not over. For one thing, that figure is still a way off reflecting the true diversity of the UK. Of those 45 MPs, 36 are men, 9 are women, all are white and none are transgender.
But that doesn't mean we can't celebrate the progress that's been made and the incredible work being done by LGB (T still missing) politicians around the country - and we thought we'd take the opportunity to do just that.
Here are 5 fantastic LGBT+ politicians you should know more about:
Chris Bryant - MP for Rhondda
Chris was working as a priest when he decided that, as a gay man, this wasn’t the career he wanted - and he's worked hard in the 16 years since he was elected to campaign for LGBT+ equality. He's still a committed Christian, unafraid to speak his mind, and has been a vocal critic of homophobic attitudes within the Church of England. In 2010 Chris’s civil partnership ceremony with Jared Cranney was the first ever to be held in the Houses of Parliament!
In parliament Chris was a leading figure in campaigning for the bill to grant pardon to men criminalised for their sexuality. In a debate following this bill, he gave an impassioned and moving speech on the need to go further and grant those men not just a pardon, but an apology - and was met with applause by MPs from all parties. (The motion, tabled by SNP John Nicolson, was filibustered by MP Sam Gyimah.)
Chris is an unwavering advocate of LGBT+ rights in Parliament, and he is also a leading champion of the fact that being gay and being Christian - or indeed, holding any faith - are not mutually exclusive. For these reasons, along with many others, he represents so much of what is central to More United’s ethos. We’re really proud to have supported him in the last election and to have him representing us in Parliament.
Ruth Davidson - MSP for Edinburgh Central
Elected leader of the Scottish Conservatives in 2011 - the youngest ever party leader - Ruth has said she felt inspired to go into politics in the wake of the parliamentary expenses scandal: she felt there was a need for new and different kinds of people to get involved in politics. And having grown up in a working class family and spent most of her adult life in Glasgow, her background certainly contrasts with many other politicians - a fact that perhaps contributes to her widespread appeal around the UK.
Ruth has spoken openly about her struggle to come to terms with being gay and of the turning point that marked the moment she decided she could no longer 'live a lie'. She believes firmly in the importance of public role models so that young people growing up can see that no matter what your background, gender, race or sexuality there should be no barriers to success.
In 2012 she was named Politician of the Year by Stonewall, the LGBT+ rights charity.
Peter Kyle - MP for Hove
Peter left secondary school without the qualifications he needed, so returned at the age of 25 and started all over again. Since then he’s been an aid worker, got a PhD in community development and run a charity that tackles youth unemployment.
Elected as MP for Hove in 2015, he’s spoken about the isolation of growing up gay in the 1980s, in a society where he wasn’t able to talk to anyone about his sexuality. He now advocates for better PHSE teaching in schools to make sure that children learn about sex and relationships of all kinds in a positive and inclusive way.
Peter believes politicians should use their platform to bring people together and stamp out hate wherever it appears. He is using his platform to highlight areas where legislation is still needed to better promote LGBT+ equality, particularly for trans people.
Peter was one of the candidates backed by More United in the most recent general election and is busy fighting for our values in Parliament.
Stephen Doughty - MP for Cardiff South & Penarth
Stephen was elected in 2012 and has since held positions as Shadow Minister for Trade and Industry and as Shadow Foreign Minister. He previously spent years working for international charities and has used his expertise in this field to raise awareness of and call out persecution of the LGBT+ community around the world.
Most recently he used his parliamentary platform to highlight the shocking treatment of gay men in Chechnya, calling on the government to act swiftly and resolutely in response to these human rights abuses. This track record of fighting for tolerance and to protect LGBT+ people from violence is one of the reasons More United supported Stephen in the last election.
Mhairi Black - MP for Paisley & Renfrewshire South
Mhairi is the youngest MP for 350 years, having been elected when she was just 20 years old - and still a month off graduating from university! She's talked openly about the 'boys' club' atmosphere of Westminster, and the fact that, as a young, gay, female SNP MP, she's feels like a political outsider - and that fact seems to have resonated deeply. Her maiden speech in May 2015 gained 11m views by the end of the day and was trending in Nigeria.
In her two years as an MP, her frank and powerful speeches in parliament have drawn attention to a myriad of issues, from benefit cuts to Trident. Mhairi has spoken out about the online abuse she's faced at the hands of twitter trolls, using her own experience to highlight what a serious issue this is for women, LGBT+ people and other minorities. She's campaigned for more inclusive and widespread education about LGBT+ issues in schools in order to tackle homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying.
When asked about her decision to come out as gay she replied "I was never in".