Education Secretary Justine Greening hits out at ‘pockets’ of anti-LGBT feeling in the UK
Equalities Minister Justine Greening has hit out at the “pockets” of the UK where there is opposition to LGBT equality.
Speaking at the PinkNews Parliamentary Summer Reception, the Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities praised the progress made since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality back in 1967.
“Since 1967 we have taken many steps along that road that we can be proud of, whether it’s more recent steps like same-sex marriage or steps taken by governments before, like the repeal of Section 28,” she said.
“All of these were important milestones that set out the journey that our country was on, not just in Parliament but in public, and the fact that attitudes have changed.”
Ms Greening added: “Britain now is genuinely a much more inclusive country than we’ve ever been, but we’ve got a long way to go.
“There are too many pockets in our country where LGBT rights are seen as something that are a mistake.
“They think things have gone too far, and should go back to where they were. We need to keep on pushing, and there are lots of steps I want to see us as a government take going forward.”
Prior to this year’s snap General Election, Ms Greening pledged that the Conservatives would not roll back any equalities laws after Brexit.
“Quite simply, we are 100% committed to ensuring all existing rights, however the legal framework changes in relation to leaving the European Union,” she said.
“We will make sure we have no backward steps in this area through leaving the European Union.”
After the Conservative Party signed a confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionist Party, Ms Greening said that rather than the DUP moving the Conservatives away from equality, she wanted to change the DUP’s mind on LGBT rights.
Also speaking at last night’s event, the Lord Speaker Baron Fowler called for a rolling out of equal marriage to all of the UK.
“Equal marriage has already shown itself to be one of the most successful social reforms introduced in this country, and I can only hope Northern Ireland will soon follow suit,” he said.
“Today we should seek to be an example of equal rights. We’re in a unique position to do that. In so many countries in the Commonwealth, they use past history as an excuse for present outrage.
“They say, it was you the British that introduced the laws, and they were right, it was we the British. But we have turned our back on those old laws and are pursuing a different path.
“In small ways and big ways we can make a contribution. In small ways – like projecting the rainbow over Parliament as we did last week – we send a message of support.
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“In big ways, by campaigning at every stage, and in every institution, we can have an even greater impact.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn also spoke at the PinkNews reception, calling for an apology rather than pardon for those convicted for being gay.
He also highlighted the persecution of gay people in Chechnya and the risks to LGBT people in the US under the Trump/Pence administration, and called for an overhaul of the Gender Recognition Act.
The PinkNews Parliamentary Reception was generously supported by Lloyds Banking Group.