The General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches has paid tribute to Lynne Featherstone, the UK Government’s former equalities minister, who was moved from the post in yesterday’s reshuffle.

The Lib Dem MP, who represents the constituency of Hornsey & Wood Green in north London, is now starting work at the Department of International Development.

In a statement, Derek McAuley, chief officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, said:

“Lynne Featherstone has driven forward the coalition’s policy on equal marriage and is to be congratulated. I wish her well in her new post at the Department of International Development”.

Along with several political commentators and LGBT campaigners, the General Assembly was surprised by Downing Street’s decision to move the Government Equalities Office (GEO) from within the Home Office, to the Department for Media, Culture and Sport on Tuesday.

Mr McAuley is worried that having a new government department, secretary of state, and minister of state, all looking after the coalition’s pledge to legalise equal marriage before the end of the current parliament, could herald in a change of emphasis:

“Recently there have been indications that the government may bring forward proposals to allow equal religious marriage for faiths who wish to pursue this as well as equal civil marriage and I hope that this more positive approach is not quietly rolled back,” Mr McAuley said.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Liberal Democrats’ LGBT campaign group, Adrian Trett, has also paid tribute to Ms Featherstone’s time in office as equality minister, saying:

“Lynne has been an outstanding champion for equalities. She has fought homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in sport, launched the Transgender Action plan, and started the biggest ever piece of equalities legislation in equal marriage and so much more besides. We can all be proud of her work – I know I am very grateful to her.”