The top 10 PinkNews UK stories of 2014
As the year of 2014 close, PinkNews looks back on the top 10 most significant stories to come out of the UK.
It’s been a big year for equality across much of the UK – and we take a look back at some of our favourite home-grown stories from the past 12 months.
1. The first same-sex couples married in England and Wales
There’s no competition for the top spot – 2014 is the year of same-sex marriage.
For the first time ever, same-sex couples could marry in England, Wales – with couples in Scotland set to join on Wednesday, New Year’s Eve.
Couples already in civil partnerships also began to marry this month, after a number of procedural hiccups hindered the progress of conversions.
2. UKIP councillor David Silvester claimed same-sex marriage caused floods
It’s hard to believe it was only in January that now ex-UKIP councillor David Silvester blamed the passage of equal marriage for the floods that devastated areas in southern England.
Long after most of the flood damage was repaired, Mr Silvester’s infamous comments have taken on a life of their own.
Mr Silvester is no longer a member of the UK Independence Party – and honestly we’d all just rather forget this clip of Nigel Farage presenting a ‘UKIP Weather’ forecast.
3. Labour candidate Emily Brothers came out as transgender
History was made last month, when Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate Emily Brothers came out as transgender in an interview with PinkNews.
Ms Brothers – who was a key figure in securing Disability Living Allowance for blind people – is standing for the party in Sutton and Cheam.
She said: “For a lot of people of a transgender experience that can be very challenging but for me, it was absolutely the right thing to do. I am happy and content as a woman, and also as a gay woman.”
4. John Barrowman redefined the meaning of the ‘Glasgow Kiss’
We can’t forget this iconic moment during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony, when Doctor Who star John Barrowman paid tribute to marriage equality in Scotland with a ‘new Glasgow kiss’.
Homosexuality is still punishable with prison sentences in 42 out of 54 Commonwealth nations – most of whom broadcast the kiss live on TV.
5. Ed Miliband appointed Michael Cashman as his LGBT envoy
Stonewall co-founder Michael Cashman, who retired from the European Parliament in May, was elevated to the House of Lords this summer.
In September, Labour leader Ed Miliband announced Lord Cashman will serve as the party’s LGBT rights envoy – at a time when LGBT rights “are going backwards” abroad.
Mr Miliband also paid tribute to Lord Cashman’s late partner, Paul Cottingham, at the PinkNews awards.
6. Sir Elton John married his partner David Furnish
After 21 years together, the UK’s most well-known gay couple were able to finally tie the knot this month.
The pair are fathers to sons Zachary and Elijah – and made history in a different way, by documenting their wedding live on Instagram.
Sir Elton and Mr Furnish said: “We’re utterly overwhelmed by and overjoyed by all the kind messages of support we’ve received from people around the world. Massive thanks to everyone from the bottom of our hearts!
“We’re grateful and privileged to live in a country where it isn’t illegal to be gay and where marriage equality is a reality. Let’s all stand up for LGBT people living around the world who deserve the same rights. #ShareTheLove.”
7. Nicky Morgan was appointed as Minister for Women and Equalities
Tory MP Nicky Morgan – who voted against same-sex marriages last year – was handed the equalities brief in a reshuffle, taking it from Culture Secretary Sajid Javid.
The minister has since addressed her opposition to equal marriage, telling PinkNews in October: “I do understand why people would think ‘hang on a second, she’s voted this way on this, which is an important piece of legislation for me, and how is she going to do the job?’
“I think people should judge me by actions and deeds, and not just on the basis of one vote. I think that’s what saddens me. It’s on the basis of one particular vote. People make an assumption about how I must be. I hope people would find me not to be like that at all.”
8. British man Ray Cole was jailed in Morocco over ‘homosexual acts’
In October, PinkNews broke the news that 70-year-old Mr Cole – who was holidaying in the country with a Moroccan friend – was convicted after police found explicit pictures on his phone.
The retired magazine publisher from Deal in Kent was sentenced to four months behind bars in a Marrakesh prison – but he was later released and cleared of all charges, after an intense pressure campaign.
Mr Cole returned to the UK after his release – and is currently enjoying Christmas at home with his family.
9. UKIP MEP who claimed gays ‘undermine’ marriage visits alleged brothel
Married UKIP MEP Roger Helmer is not one to back away from his views – labelling homosexuality “not a lifestyle worthy of equal respect” and “abhorrent to God”.
The senior party official called for privacy, however, after a tabloid newspaper published a report claiming he visited a ‘sleazy’ massage parlour.
When asked whether his wife – whom he employed as a research assistant – knew about the visit, he replied: “She will tomorrow I dare say.”
10. Ruth Hunt became Stonewall CEO, opens up to trans groups
After the resignation of CEO Ben Summerskill, Ruth Hunt was appointed to the helm of the UK’s largest lesbian, gay and bisexual charity.
She has embarked on a series of reforms since, starting a consultation about opening up to include the transgender community.
Ms Hunt caused controversy last month, however, when she laid into “posh, rich, white western gays” for supporting a boycott of Brunei-owned businesses over the country’s laws criminalising gay sex.
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