Ed Miliband last night gave a speech celebrating equal marriage, and looking ahead to pledge if he is elected to Prime Minister, that he would do everything he could to fight against international inequalities.
Speaking at an LGBT Labour dinner at Café de Paris, Mr Miliband said he hoped to get to a point where “true equality” is achieved and where an athlete such as Tom Daley coming out is no longer “a political act”.
He said: “We are here tonight in celebration of the changes we’ve seen in our country. When I think about the changes I’ve seen in my lifetime, the changes when it comes to equality for the LGBT community are perhaps more profund than any of the other changes. I am incredibly proud to have been part of a Labour Government which made those changes possible.
Noting an earlier conversation with Grayson Perry, he recalled that the artist had said: “‘I want to get to the stage where the way I dress is no longer a political act’. When you think about how far we have come, you think about how far we have to go. When Tom Daley came out, it was a political act. We want to get to the point when an athlete comes out, and it is no longer a political act, because that is true equality.
“I think we have made extraordinary strides in the battle for formal equality, but we should also recognise the strides we sitll have to make in the battle for real equality. And that is true when it comes to homophobic bullying, it is true when it comes to discrimination in the workplace and that is true when it comes to what is happening internationally – where the world seems to be going backwards not forwards.”
He promised: “I pledge to you tonight that if I am the Prime Minister of this country, that will be an absolutely central part of my agenda using every mechanism at my disposal to fight for equality around the world.”
“We recognise how far we have come, we recognise how much further we have got to go,” he went on to commend the “movement” of people who pushed for moves towards equality.
He spoke optimistically about the upcoming general election, saying “the stakes are incredibly high”, and that “we are in the fight of our lives”.
Speaking more broadly, Mr Miliband said: “The most important thing we’ve got to do in this, when we think about what’s the right thing to do for the country, is walk in the shoes of the victims. Of course there are legal tests for what we do, but we’ve got to walk in their shoes.
“It boils down to a Government and a PM who can walk in the shoes of others, whoever they are in the country. What makes me most angry about this Government, is that they refuse to walk in the shoes of others.
“I think tonight we are celebrating the ability of a country to change, and people right across our country to be able to walk in the shoes of others. To be able to walk in the shoes of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in our country, and understand their lives, and see them not as ‘the other’, but see them as part of our country.
“I want to build a country where you have a Government who can walk in the shoes of others, and where everybody in the country can walk in the shoes of others.”
Also at the LGBT Labour dinner, Labour peer Lord Alli took a pop at Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, saying she looked like “a rabbit scared in the headlights” when handling the equal marriage debate.