Current Affairs

Equality minister Lynne Featherstone says government is ‘100% committed to gay rights’

PinkNews Staff Writer July 2, 2010
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Lynne Featherstone, the Liberal Democrat junior equality minister, has said the coalition government is “100 per cent” committed to “full” LGBT equality.

She is due to march and speak at Pride tomorrow with gay Tory minister Nick Herbert.

Theresa May, who is Ms Featherstone’s senior as equality minister, will not be attending due to commitments in her constituency.

Speaking at the TUC LGBT conference today, Ms Featherstone promised the government would “change culture” to ensure full equality.

She said: “The government is 100 per cent committed to completing the journey to full LGB and T equality. We have made clear our determination to tackle discrimination and make this country a more tolerant, equal and fair place for everybody.

“We are committed to taking action to support LGB and T people, including changing the law so that historical convictions for consensual gay sex with over 16s won’t be disclosed on a criminal record check and using our international influence to speak out against human rights abuses and for unequivocal support for gay rights.

“Changing culture is never going to be an easy task but it must be our ultimate goal if we are to achieve full LGB and T equality. I promise you government will do their bit.”

Ms Featherstone is known to be an outspoken advocate for gay rights but has not yet broken ranks with coalition government policy.

She did, however, cause controversy in her first day as a minister by saying she was “very disappointed” at the lack of female and ethnic minority representation in government.

Since the coalition government was elected, it has set out a range of new policies for LGBT equality.

These include better recording of hate crimes, religious civil partnerships and more protection for gay asylum seekers fleeing homophobic countries.

However, some gay activists were dismayed that full marriage equality and lifting the gay blood donation ban were not in the policy document.

They have also raised concerns that government promises to set up more faith schools may lead to an increase in homophobic bullying.

Ms May also urged “cultural change” recently. Writing for last month, she said ensuring equality was “not a job for government alone”.

She wrote that “everyone in society” has a part to play and highlighted business leaders, sportsmen and newspaper editors as some of those who “need to take action”

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