Lib Dem MEP: Tories wrong not to back ILGA-Europe’s LGBT rights pledge

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Liberal Democrat MEP-elect Catherine Bearder says she’s “surprised and disappointed” at Conservative MEPs for refusing to sign ILGA-Europe’s pledge on LGBT rights.

Mrs Bearder said the decision ran counter to David Cameron’s flagship equality policy of legalising same-sex marriage in England and Wales.

“I am surprised and disappointed by the Conservatives,” the MEP for the South East told

“They have a lead from the Prime Minister in delivering LGBT rights with the Marriage (Same Sex) Couples Act.

“I thought we were there [in the European Parliament] for human rights?”

She added that “fighting discrimination for all people” was a “core value of the European Union” and “if you’re promoting equality, you are promoting it for everyone.”

Mrs Bearder was the only Lib Dem to be elected to the European Parliament in the EU elections.

The party lost 10 seats on Sunday night.

Twenty one of the UK’s 73 newly elected MEPs, including Mrs Bearder, have signed the ILGA-Europe pledge, which urges Members of the European Parliament to advance LGBT rights over the next five years.

Labour, Sein Fein, the Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Green Party were all signatories.

But the Conservative Party and UKIP appeared absent from the list.

The Chairman of LGBTory, Colm Howard-Lloyd, said it was because the pledge meant “taking powers away from the UK”, with issues such as equal marriage moving to the European Parliament and away from individual member states.

ILGA-Europe rejected Mr Howard-Lloyd’s remarks, saying “it is wrong to suggest we even address marriage equality in our work at EU level”.

An ILGA spokesperson added: “What we are calling for is an EU-wide strategy for LGBTI equality, similar to those already existing on gender equality, rights of Roman and people with disabilities.”

But outgoing Tory MEP Marina Yannakoudakis told PinkNews that the concerns expressed by Mr Howard-Lloyd were justified.

She said: “I can understand why many MEPs and candidates who don’t believe in a federal Europe would be unwilling to sign such a pledge and ILGA is making mischief by suggesting there were anti-equality reasons for not signing.”