Exclusive Ed Miliband: I am proud that the House of Lords has passed equal marriage

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Labour Party Leader Ed Miliband has praised the House of Lords for passing the same-sex marriage bill at Third Reading this afternoon and has also thanked PinkNews.co.uk for its “fantastic campaigning” on equal marriage over the past several years.

I am proud that the House of Lords has now passed a bill that will allow everyone to marry the person they love.

The last Labour government was responsible for landmark changes in the law such as repealing Section 28, equalising the age of consent and introducing civil partnerships. I am proud that equal marriage, a hugely important step forward in the fight for equality in Britain, is one which was achieved with the support of the whole of Labour’s shadow cabinet and the vast majority of Labour MPs and peers.

When I first pledged my support for equal marriage – in an article for PinkNews.co.uk during the Labour Party leadership campaign in 2010 – few people would have thought that in less than three years the legalisation would have passed through Parliament. This shows how far we have come as a country in recent years – and is also a tribute to the fantastic campaigning by PinkNews and other groups.

But we must also remember that the fight for equality is not over. People across the world continue to face discrimination and hatred because of their sexuality. And closer to home too many people suffer bullying and hate crimes because of their sexuality.

I visited Blatchington Mill School in Hove recently – a school that has been recognised by Stonewall for the pioneering way that it has stamped out homophobic bullying. The responsible approach the staff and pupils took towards the issue was genuinely inspiring. But we need to ensure that across the country young people are not subject to homophobic bullying.

I will continue to raise awareness on this issue and hope that together we can make homophobic bullying a thing of the past. And I assure you that the next Labour government will continue to be at the forefront of the fight for equality our society.

Ed Miliband is the Leader of the Labour Party