Gay MPs have been accused of snubbing an Early Day Motion tabled by Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbot in support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teenager’s support service The Albert Kennedy Trust.
The Chief Executive of the Trust, Richard McKendrick said, “It is really shocking that more openly gay MP’s haven’t signed this motion in support of the work that we do.”
The Trust was created following the death of Albert Kennedy, a 16 year old runaway from a children’s home who fell to his death from the top of a car park, while being chased by a homophobic gang.
The organisation acts as a contact point for LGBT teenagers and children, and promises to “provide you with information, and put you in touch with available services in your area … we may be able to match you with an AKT mentor for weekly support to provide you with housing with one of our lesbian or gay carers.”
Mr McKendrick said that the Trust had received over 200 referrals last year, and many more requests for help. He expressed his concern over the large number of teenagers currently living on the streets, many of whom, he fears are LGBT, “Statistics show it, and it’s also my experience”.
The Trust has recently started to do more outreach work, beginning with a project in Manchester, where young LGBT volunteers go out onto the streets to ask other young people if they need any help. “They can really engage with people, and it raises people’s awareness of us in a way that our advertising and poster don’t do. If these young people are in trouble, we hope that they will remember that they can contact us,” Mr McKendrick said.
The motion in Parliament seeks to “express its gratitude for the important work done by the Trust,” and some MPs were quick to offer their support. Labour MP and former actress Glenda Jackson added her name to the list, as did former Conservative transport minister Peter Bottomley, Liberal Democrat Shadow Chancellor Vincent Cable and the controversial Respect MP George Galloway.
However, only one gay MP, the Labour Party’s David Borrow, member for South Ribble, was on the list before PinkNews.co.uk raised the issue. “We’re up to 28 now, which isn’t bad”, Mr McKendrick said, “But when you think there are what 500 MPs? Ok, so Ministers and Secretaries aren’t allowed to sign it, but that’s still a lot who haven’t offered their support. It’s a shame.”
“You’d think given the current climate of MPs coming out and having problems about it, that people would be on the look out to be more supportive. It’s shocking that more gay MPs haven’t offered their support.”
“Asking me might have helped” commented Labour MP for Rhondda Chris Bryant. “It certainly wasn’t deliberate! I was at the launch of the AKT year ago. I’m on Jury service at the moment, so that’s why I missed it coming up. Early Day motions make up a very small part of Parliamentary life, and sometimes they can get a bit overlooked.
I’ll read the motion when I get back to work, and show my support for it too.”
More lesbian and gay MP’s have signed the motion since PinkNews.co.uk followed up the story.
Nick Herbert, Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs told PinkNews.co.uk he didn’t know about the EDM or the trust, “It seems like a really good cause and I am very happy to sign it.”
Shadow Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and the most senior gay Tory MP, Alan Duncan, told PinkNews.co.uk: “I applaud the work of the AKT and thank PinkNews.co.uk for pointing it out to me.”
Labour MP for Wallasey, Angela Eagle, MP, has also promised to sign the motion and has passed it onto her colleagues.