Tory Vice Chair Mike Freer: Lack of Conservatives on Rainbow List is ‘disappointing’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Tory Vice Chair Mike Freer has attacked the “disappointing” lack of Conservative figures present on this year’s Rainbow List.

The annual list – which was renamed earlier this year from the Pink List because some people are “put off” by pink – is collated by the Independent on Sunday, and celebrates 101 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people who have made a difference.

However, some have criticised this year’s list – which is topped by Ed Miliband’s LGBT envoy Michael Cashman – for containing few Conservative and Liberal Democrat politicians.

Gay Tory equalities minister Nick Boles – who is helping to oversee the introduction of civil partnership conversions – is omitted, as is the Prime Minister’s Head of Broadcasting Michael Salter, who chairs Pride in London. Mr Salter is David Cameron’s key advisor on LGBT issues.

Conservative peer Lord Black of Brentwood, who is also Executive Director of the Daily Telegraph – and who has campaigned against gay cure therapy – was not listed, nor Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Barker.

Liberal Democrat Minister Stephen Williams and Lib Dem MP Stephen Gilbert, who regularly speak out on equality issues, were also both excluded. Schools and Cabinet Office Minister, David Laws, the highest ranking gay member of the government was not on the list either. Mr Laws, recently presented the PinkNews Ally of the Year Award to Home Office Minister Lynne Featherstone.

Former councillor Sarah Brown was the lone Liberal Democrat present on the list, while the only Conservatives were Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, and backbench MPs Margot James and Crispin Blunt.

Mike Freer, the Vice Chair of the Conservative Party told PinkNews: “It was disappointing to see the contribution on LGBT issues by many Conservative MPs not reflected in the list.

“People who are campaigning or contributing to marriage conversions, Pride, HPV vaccinations for men who have sex with other men, spousal veto and blood transfusions were omitted.

“The list should reflect people’s contributions to the LGBT community, not just their position or role.”

The judging panel included Labour MP Ben Bradshaw but no Conservative or Liberal Democrat MPs. A source at the Independent on Sunday told PinkNews that an unnamed Conservative was invited to join the panel but was not able to attend. However, Mr Freer who is also the Chairman of the party’s LGBT Advisory Board, told PinkNews that he was not invited but would have joined the panel if he had been asked.