Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has hailed his government’s work on LGBT rights as one of his proudest achievements.
The former Labour leader was Prime Minister from 1997 until 2007 – and during his time in office oversaw the repeal of Section 28, the introduction of civil partnerships, an equal age of consent, same-sex adoption, the Gender Recognition Act, and the end of the ban on gays in the military.
Mr Blair spoke about his achievements at a fundraising dinner in support of the Chris Smith List – a campaign fund that helps Labour’s LGBT candidates.
The politician joked about being named as a gay icon by Gay Times last year, quipping: “I stand here, obviously, before you tonight as a gay icon… it’s actually one of the bits of good press I’ve had recently.”
Paying tribute to the party’s campaigners, he said: “When I look back on the government that I led, the work that we did in this area is one of the things of which I am most proud.
“Just a couple of days ago [Shadow Education Secretary] Tristram Hunt was launching a programme of reform for our schools policy under the next Labour government.
“All of these things are markers in a journey of change and progress that has happened over a number of years now, that then influenced the way that society is.
“We get so much cynicism about politics, but we forget sometimes that there are real instances of political activity that changes people’s lives.
“The progress of LGBT rights is one such example… without the politics, without the political commitment and the activism, it would never have happened.
“When it did happen, it was the culmination of political work, day-in day-out, in meetings in debates (…) politics can do good, and this is an example of how it has.”
He also appeared to offer a small amount of praise to Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron for becoming a proponent of gay rights.
Mr Blair said: “When at least the Conservative leadership were driven to support the agenda, for me this was a real victory.
“This showed that we could change the basis of politics and our society and the freedom of each individual.”