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5 times new Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey stood up for LGBT+ rights – from helping end Section 28 to fighting for trans rights

Josh Milton August 27, 2020
Ed Davey reacts after being elected as the leader of the Liberal Democrats on August 27, 2020. (Stefan Rousseau - Pool/Getty Images)

Ed Davey reacts after being elected as the leader of the Liberal Democrats on August 27, 2020. (Stefan Rousseau - Pool/Getty Images)

Ed Davey, a pragmatist lawmaker who placed trans rights firmly as a plank of his campaign, has been named the new leader of the Liberal Democrats.

An experienced moderate and former economist, Davey, 54, secured the Lib Dem leadership with a thumping 42,756 votes, almost double that of his opponent, the pansexual MP Layla Moran.

He was congratulated by the LGBT+ Lib Dems equality group, which told PinkNews: “Our party has a lot of work to do winning back trust amongst LGBT+ members, voters, and the wider public.

“Many LGBT+ members have felt that they are not being listened to by the party leadership recently, and we want to fix that.

“We hope that Ed shares that aim, and look forward to meeting and working with him and the wider party to achieve this.”

Davey’s voice will become an important one in the ongoing fight for LGBT+ equality – especially that for trans rights. Here are five times he proved himself an ally to the community.

1. Ed Davey introduced the clause that repealed Section 28.

Davey, who has been acting leader since last December, takes the reins at in a tumultuous time for LGBT+ rights, but has a strong track record when it comes to furthering equality – including a pivotal role in ending Section 28.

In 2003 Davey introduced the clause that led to the reviled legislation’s repeal. He told PinkNews in November 2019, 16 years after Section 28 was finally scrapped: “I am proud to have moved the clause that abolished Section 28 once and for all. But we still have so far to go.

“From trans rights, to tackling the persistent discrimination faced by the LGBT+ community: the fight is far from over.”

Liberal Democrat MP Ed Davey speaks at the Liberal Democrat party conference in 2019. (BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)

2. The new Lib Dem leader stood up for trans rights throughout his campaign.

The fight for trans equality in 2020 has been reduced by Conservative lawmakers and vicious anti-trans lobby groups into a pinched battleground that top human rights advocates say is harming society.

Rumours are heaving that the Tory government plan to scrap life-changing reforms to the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) while bulldozing in a harsh rollback of rights compared by some activists to Section 28.

Davey sought throughout his leadership bid to position the Lib Dems as the party of trans rights. In tight contrast to Labour, whose leaders, critics say, often engage in logistical jujitsu to avoid making firm statements, Davey has made his views neatly clear.

“Trans rights are human rights,” he tweeted in June, urging followers to write to their MP to demand GRA reform.

3. He believes in self-ID for trans people.

The new Lib Dem leader expanded his position while talking to LBC in August, emphatically throwing his support in favour of self-identification.

“A woman is defined by the individual,” Davey said.

“If a person believes they are a woman, a trans woman is a woman, that’s my view, it’s the party’s view and it’s the view of many other people.

“We had this same argument when Liberal Democrats were pushing through and arguing for same-sex marriage legislation.

“Giving trans women and trans men rights and protecting them doesn’t undermine the rights of others.”

4. The new Liberal Democrat leader has called for better LGBT+ representation for children.

To mark Pride Month 2019, Davey wrote to BBC director general Tony Hall to demand better representation of LGBT+ people on children’s programmes.

“The anti-equality protests in Birmingham have put in stark relief the need for young people to be taught about the diversity of families and relationships in our society, in an age-appropriate way,” he wrote.

“I think we should be seeing more LGBT+ characters in television, including on some of the most popular shows. The BBC can be a trailblazer in this area, making sure that children at a younger age understand equality and tolerance.”

Ed Davey joins a protest demanding protection for rights for refugee children on January 20, 2020. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

5. Ed Davey has a spotless LGBT+ rights voting record.

Ed Davey’s voting record shows that he has always backed LGBT+ rights.

Right at the very start of his decades-long career as a politician, he was quick to establish himself an ally. In 1998, a year after he was first elected, he voted to reduce the age of consent for gay men from 18 to 16.

Davey voted yes to give same-sex couples the right to adopt and to enshrine marriage equality in England and Wales, and later in Northern Ireland. He also voted in favour of anti-discrimination regulations granted by the Equality Act, the bedrock of LGBT+ protection across various arenas of society.

More: Britain, ed davey, gender recognition act, Layla Moran, liberal democrat, Liberal Democrat leadership race, trans rights, UK

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