The Labour Party is set to lose two of its longest serving supporters of gay rights after two Brighton MPs announced they would be standing down at the next General Election.
Brighton based MPs Des Turner and David Lepper, who have consistently supported gay rights in Parliament for their high density of lesbian and gay constituents, both announced they would not run for re-election, citing their age as a reason, as well as discontent with the direction of the government.
Mr Turner, MP for Brighton Kemptown, said he will be nearly 70 at the next poll and wants to allow a younger, “more energetic” person to take the reins.
The politician voted for allowing gay couples to adopt and civil partnerships, and most recently led his support to a campaign against homophobic bullying.
He said he has been proud of what the Labour Government has achieved especially regarding gay rights and the incoming Sexual Orientation Regulations, but admitted that the leadership is now in trouble.
He told PinkNews.co.uk: “It doesn’t have that much direction, the government is treading water.”
Mr Lepper, Brighton Pavilion MP, will follow Mr Turner out at the next General Election after over 30 years in politics, which have included being a local councillor and mayor of Brighton.
He said it is time to hand over to someone else after achieving most of his aims as an MP which have included the repeal of Section 28, and encouraging equal rights for transsexuals though the Gender Recognition Act.
Mr Lepper was one of the early supporters of civil partnerships when he sponsored a proposal in 1998.
“We have gone a long way towards implementing the equality Stonewall wanted to see in Labour’s 1997 manifesto,” he told PinkNews.co.uk.
He expressed pride that he has served under “inspirational” Prime Minister Tony Blair, who he praised for policies on equality, climate change and poverty, but expressed opposition to the Iraq war and the government’s attitude towards the Lebanon conflict last summer.