Nicky Morgan heckled at PinkNews Awards as she explains why she now backs same-sex marriage

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Nicky Morgan has, at the PinkNews Awards, said she is glad to now celebrate same-sex marriage, despite criticism that she voted against it last year, and was heckled for doing so.

The second annual PinkNews Awards took place in Parliament last night, hosted by the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow.

Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan gave a speech at the awards saying she had changed her mind on same-sex marriage, and that she was “delighted” that some 14,000 gay and lesbian couples have already married.

“It would be be fair to say that my appointment as equalities minister in July wasn’t universally welcomed”, she said. Her appointment, first as Minister for Women and later as Minister for Equalities surprised many in the LGBT community given her opposition to the government’s key gay rights policy achievement, same-sex marriage.

Mrs Morgan continued: “I really do understand your concerns because the vote on equal marriage was without doubt the most difficult vote of my political career because I knew how much it meant to all people on all sides of the argument.

“I want to ask one thing of you, which is to judge me on my record as women’s and equalities minister and to give me the opportunity to demonstrate that the LGBT community will not find a more passionate ally in the fight against discrimination.”

During her speech she was heckled by an unknown member of the crowd, and as she talked about her previous opposition to same-sex marriage, but that she now supports it. The heckler repeatedly shouted “you voted against it”.

“I did vote against it yes, absolutely,” she said, but to cheers, continued: “But if you are not going to recognise that people actually change their minds then what is the point of this place and this house of democracy and debate?”

Mrs Morgan presented the Community Group of the Year Award, sponsored by BNP Paribas, to both the Warwick Rowers and Human Dignity Trust.

Other recipients included former Thatcher cabinet minister Norman Fowler, who was presented with the Peer of the Year, by William Hague, in recognition of his campaigning work to fight HIV and improve sex education.

Ed Miliband presented a Lifetime Achievement Award to former EastEnders star Lord Cashman CBE to recognise his role in founding the gay rights charity Stonewall and 15 years service as an MEP, as well as a posthumous award to his late partner Paul Cottingham, a humanitarian and LGBT activist who died after a battle with cancer, last week.