Stonewall co-founder Michael Cashman elevated to House of Lords

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Stonewall co-founder and former Labour MEP Michael Cashman will serve in the House of Lords.

Mr Cashman, who represented the West Midlands since 1999 and was head of the European Parliament Intergroup on LGBT Rights, officially retired in May.

He was among a list of working peers appointed this morning, adding to the House of Lords’ current membership of 770.

He told “It’s a huge and humbling honour, and if anything it just brings me closer to my roots, closer to where I began. I just wish my old Mum and Dad were alive to witness it.

“It’s a huge opportunity to speak out about the things that I’m passionate about, about equality, human rights, inhumanity, international development, and work towards a Labour government that I believe will start to address these major issues.

“None of this is achieved by one individual. I’ve got this because of the support of the most important man in my life, Paul Cottingham, my man of 30 years. Also, all of the colleagues that have helped me and supported me.

“I will take this enormous responsibility with me in everything that I do.”

Despite claims that he will take the title Lord Cashman of Limehouse, he said: “I’ll have to go in and sit down and negotiate my title with the Garter King of Arms. I like to think I can take a title that reflects where I come from.”

He is best known for his role as Colin Russell on EastEnders – the first character to have a same-sex kiss on a British soap.

He co-founded gay rights charity Stonewall in 1989 and in 2010 led the calls for the charity to give its support towards equal marriage.

In May 2012, he became the first member of the European Parliament to join the Out4Marriage campaign.

Last month, Cashman attacked the “deeply worrying” appointment of Nicky Morgan, who voted against same-sex marriage, as minister for equalities.

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