Writing exclusively for PinkNews, Minister for Equalities Sajid Javid officially announces that couples in civil partnerships will from December be able to convert to marriage.

On Saturday, thousands of people will descend on central London for the capital’s annual Pride parade.

This year the organisers are asking everyone to share what Pride means to them under the banner of #FreedomTo.

For me, freedom has always been about the right to be who you are and love who you love.  That’s why I was proud to walk through the “aye” lobby at the House of Commons in support of equal marriage.

And that’s why I’m pleased to announce that, from 10 December, couples in England and Wales who have entered a Civil Partnership over the past decade will be free to convert it into a marriage.

This is something that many, many people have been clamouring for since the first equal marriages took place in March, and the final preparations are well underway.

We’ve made the process of conversion as straightforward as possible. Couples will simply have to attend a Register Office and sign a declaration that they both wish to convert their Civil Partnership to a marriage in front of the Superintendent Registrar. That’s it.

You don’t have to have a big party to celebrate with all your friends and family, but I certainly won’t try and stop you if you do!

From 10 December there is also good news for married transgender people.  You will now be able to change your legal gender without ending your marriage, provided you and your husband or wife agree to remain married.

Again, this is something we’ve heard a lot of calls for over the past few months, and I’m delighted that we’re now able to make it happen.

Over this parliament the Government has also taken other important steps to improve LGBT rights in Britain.

We have launched a new project to find ways of tackling homophobic bullying in schools, something too many children still suffer with.

We have introduced much tougher sentences for transphobic hate crime, horrendous behaviour that has no place in a civilised society.

Sports clubs, including all professional football clubs, and thousands of individuals have signed our charter for action on tackling homophobia and transphobia in sport.

And we have changed the law so that men who were unfairly stigmatised by decades-old convictions for consensual gay sex can have those convictions treated as spent.

It all helps to explain why, for the fourth year in a row, the International Lesbian and Gay Association Rainbow Index ranked the UK number one in Europe for LGB&T rights.

As we gather in London this weekend, that’s something that should give all of us a great deal of pride. 

Sajid Javid is a Conservative Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove since 2010 and the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Equalities since 2014