Baroness Royall has been appointed as Leader of the House of Lords.
Gay equality organisation Stonewall said she had been “very supportive” of gay rights since she was appointed to the upper chamber in 2004.
She was Chief Whip in the Lords until today.
A former special adviser to Neil Kinnock during his time as Labour leader, Jan Royall will have to build a coalition of peers to get the new Equality Bill through the Lords in the coming session.
It will require public bodies to actively promote equality for gay people. It is expected to be introduced in the Queen’s Speech in December.
In other reshuffle news two Home Office ministers are changing jobs.
Liam Byrne is to become a Cabinet Office minister in charge of co-ordinating policy across the government. He will attend Cabinet meetings.
Tony McNulty becomes Minister of State at Work and Pensions.
Caroline Flint is to replace Jim Murphy as Minister for Europe.
Mr Murphy becomes Secretary of State for Scotland.
After just eight months as chief of strategy and principal adviser to the Prime Minister, Stephen Carter is to leave Downing St.
The former head of broadcasting watchdog Ofcom is to take a seat in the Lords and the position of communications minister in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
His time with the Prime Minister has been beset by rumours of Downing St turfwars.
His arrival was followed by the departure of Spencer Livermore, who had worked alongside Gordon Brown for a decade.
Friends of Mr Livermore denied that Mr Carter’s appointment to Downing St overseeing strategy had undermined him and dismissed reports of a bad relationship.
The revelation that Peter Mandelson, the EU Commissioner for Trade and longtime foe of the Prime Minister, was to take a seat in the Lords and become Business Secretary has shocked Westminster.
Mr Brown said today that “serious people are needed for serious times” and characterised his relationship with Mr Mandelson as “very good.”
He added that the current economic turmoil meant it was time to “set aside all issues in the past in the national interest.”
Mr Mandelson was the only openly gay EU Commissioner.
He is one of two gay men promoted in today’s reshuffle.
Nick Brown is to become Chief Whip, the job he had in Tony Blair’s first Cabinet.