Writing exclusively for PinkNews.co.uk, Deputy Prime Minister and Liberal Democrat Leader Nick Clegg says the pending arrival of equal marriage in England, Wales and Scotland means this weekend’s Pride in London celebrations will be a “landmark” event.
This year’s Pride will, I hope, be a landmark one in the history books. From the first marches campaigning for gay rights 43 years ago, this year’s Pride should be the last one where gay men and women have not been able to marry. Some say it’s been a long time coming, but since the Liberal Democrats entered government three years ago, I really didn’t think that we could come this far, this fast.
Some people have argued that allowing same-sex couples to marry is unnecessary. I disagree. Civil partnerships were a huge stride forward, but only the right to marry – if you choose – is real equality. This isn’t just a ‘gay issue’. It’s about the kind of society we want to be.
This year we are flying rainbow flags high above more government offices across Whitehall than ever before; we are on the brink of equal marriage finally coming to fruition; and we are supporting London’s bid for the Gay Games in 2018. And these successes should embolden us to do more.
More than half of people in a recent poll backed full marriage equality here in the UK. Equal marriage in France came under the world’s spotlight earlier this month as Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau said “I do”. But it wasn’t without controversy – with widespread protests including at the Tour de France and French Open.
Looking around the world, the picture continues to be very mixed – with seemingly as many backwards steps and forward ones. In Russia, the Duma has unanimously voted to ban “homosexual propaganda”. Earlier this month, Alaa Jarban, a 23-year-old student, became one of the first people to come out publicly as gay while still living in Yemen. While there has been a tiny whisper of support on his blog, it is sadly buried in a barrage of familiar hate. And closer to home, across the EU, a shocking quarter of gay people say they have been subjected to attacks or threats in the last five years.
So as we join together to celebrate Pride –– let’s also take a moment to stop and reflect on those who still fight for the rights we take for granted in Britain. Over the last forty years, you took up that fight for gay people in Britain. We must continue that fight – at home and abroad. As we do, I hope that in another forty years the rights we already enjoy, and the ones we are fighting for now, will be the norm across the globe.
Nick Clegg is the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Liberal Democrats