LibDems urged to encourage gay MPs

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Liberal Democrats must include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) MPs in their commitment to equality and making the party more representative, campaigners have warned.

Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Brighton this week, Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay charity Stonewall told a fringe meeting of DELGA, the LibDem’s LGBT lobby group, that a motion passed by members to improve the representation of women, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities, should also cover the gay community.

His proposal received rapturous applause at the Delivering Equality fringe conference meeting arranged by DELGA and Stonewall.

The motion agreed at the main conference under the name Diversity and Equality, placed wider representation as a priority for the party, with LibDem leader Sir Menzies Campbell pledging £200,000 to fight target seats where women and ethnic minority candidates are chosen.

But Mr Summerskill told DELGA delegates that it is vital to include gay and lesbian people as well if the LibDems really want to be representative.

He also paid tribute to gay MP Stephen Williams, from the LibDem constituency of Bristol West, who has recently arranged a petition and pushed for a parliamentary debate on a law to combat homophobic bullying.

Mr Summerskill said: “This demonstrates why there should be openly gay people I Parliament, only people like him can talk about lived experiences.”

The meeting also heard talks from Rabbi Dame JULIA NEUBERGER on the dangers of intolerance in faith and Mr Williams on the importance of fighting homophobic bullying.

This was followed yesterday by a Liberal Democrat Youth and Students conference on the same subject.

DELGA chairman Kelvin Meyrick described the conference, which ends today, as an excellent week for the organisation.