The inaugural PinkNews Awards are being hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, this evening, and will be presented to recognise the contributions of politicians, businesses and community campaigning groups to advancing LGBT life across the UK.
Below is the list of nominations for the Politician of the Year Award. The award will be decided by a panel of judges.
Baroness Tina Stowell of Beeston
Baroness Stowelll was the Tory peer who was given the gruelling task by David Cameron of guiding the equal marriage bill for England and Wales through the House of Lords.
In debates around the equal marriage bill, Baroness Stowell on several occasions used a fictional marriage to actor George Clooney, in order to explain to the House the difference between the legal definitions of adultery and unacceptable behaviour.
During the nine hours of debate on the first day of Report stage for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, Labour peer Lord Winston, the doctor and television presenter, as well as Baroness Stowell both made the observation that children “do better” when raised by samesex parents.
It was also revealed in a series of tweets between Baroness Stowell and Labour peer Baroness Royall, that both sides were glad to be working together to achieve equal marriage.
PinkNews thinks that Baroness Stowell deserves praise for securing a majority of Conservative peers in favour of the bill, contrary to many people’s expectations, while in the Commons, a majority of Conservative MPs voted against introducing equal marriage.
Baroness Stowell was formerly the Head of Corporate Affairs at the BBC.
The former Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, and current Shadow Home Secretary, Yvette Cooper, was a key player in the lead up to the Royal Assent of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, earlier this year.
The MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford supported the bill throughout its passage, and was adamant that Labour had raised concerns with the government about timetabling issues, and attempts to wreck the bill.
Ms Cooper told PinkNews.co.uk that the government needed to remember “who the opponents are” of the samesex marriage bill, in order to protect it from wrecking amendments.
In a video for the Out4Marriage campaign last year, Ms Cooper also expressed her strong support for equal marriage and successfully lobbied the government to allow for samesex marriages in churches and synagogues that wish to hold them.
Baroness Liz Barker of Anagach in Highland
Baroness Barker is a Liberal Democrat peer who, during the debate on equal marriage in the House of Lords, publicly came out as gay.
In the moving speech during the debate, she spoke of her love for another woman – revealing publicly for the first time that she, herself, is in a samesex relationship.
A staunch supporter of equal marriage and LGBT rights, she also wrote for PinkNews.co.uk on the need to lobby members of the House of Lords ahead the vote of the samesex marriage bill in the Upper House.
Once the bill had passed in the Lords, Baroness Barker said she thought the House had “showed it’s generosity, spirit, relevance and understanding of young people”, in rejecting a measure to wreck the bill.
Nick Herbert MP
Openly gay Tory MP Nick Herbert is a strong supporter of equal marriage, and also went further to push for a consultation on extending the option of civil partnerships to straight couples.
The former Police Minister, and current Conservative MP for Arundel and South Downs, in May circulated an email urging MPs to vote in favour of a Manuscript Amendment to the Marriage (same sex couples) Bill, which would have started an immediate consultation on civil partnerships for straight couples.
He founded and led Freedom to Marry UK, the Conservative lobbying group that is credited with having secured a considerable number of votes in favour of the legislation, and convinced some who were sceptical or opposed to abstain.
As Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and Minister for Women and Equalities, Maria Miller, was responsible for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in the House of Commons.
The MP for Basingstoke inherited the brief from Theresa May and had to preside over the results of a consultation into changing the law that she did not set the parameters of. Mrs Miller listened to religious leaders that wanted to conduct samesex marriages and overrode the government’s original plans to only legislate for equal civil marriages.
In June, Mrs Miller told PinkNews that although we have come a long way since 1967, “the fact is there are still many people who feel ashamed, who have hidden or who are still hiding their sexuality, through fear of homophobia or transphobia.”
This award was decided by a panel of judges in order to ensure impartiality
Judges are listed below
Iain Dale, Presenter LBC
Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green
Tom Copley, London Assembly Member (Labour London wide)
Baroness Olly Grender
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Anna Doble, Head of Online, Channel 4
Paris Lees, Columnist GT (Gay Times), Diva and the Independent
Simon Topham, Managing Director GT and Diva
Donna Halkyard, Head of Diversity, BAE Systems (Business network award)
Tom French, the Scottish Equality Network
Corinne Pinfold, former reporter, PinkNews, policy officer, School Leader Support Service
The PinkNews Awards event will be generously supported by:-
In association with:-