Charlie Condou: Why I am backing Andy Burnham for Labour leadership

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Charlie Condou writes for PinkNews on meeting Labour leadership hopeful Andy Burnham at Pride in London, and why he is backing him in his bid.

The struggle for LGBT equality has been hard fought and, while there’s much left to do, we’ve made progress that would have been unimaginable when Pride first marched in London in 1972.

Unlike in 1972, gay and lesbian couples can now adopt children. We can get married like everyone else, something which the last Labour Government paved the way for. Most importantly, we don’t have to hide and can walk down our streets with pride, not fear.

Our Pride marches tap into that fight for social equality that we share with communities the length and breadth of the country. For all the work the LGBT community has done and the victories we have achieved against great odds, we have an enormous role to play in the struggle for security and opportunity that so many people in the UK face. However, there is much more to do.

I met Andy Burnham at London Pride today. I found him at Trafalgar Square, completely surrounded – not by Party organisers and volunteers – but by members of the public. As the first 2010 leadership candidate to publicly call for gay marriage, I already knew he’d be a leader with a proud record of advocacy for LGBT rights. After meeting with him today, I know he’ll be a leader with an unshakeable commitment to the rights and values of every person in the country who has been let down by the Conservative Government.

I believe that Andy is the right person to lead both the Labour Party and the country towards true equality for all, including LGBT people. I spoke to him about his beliefs and left confident that he will make championing equality the core of his leadership. Andy has the right values and he offers the hope that we all need, and I’m proud to support his campaign.

His interview with PinkNews earlier this week showed how committed he is to our movement. Within the Labour Party, I can’t think of a stronger voice to represent me, my husband and my children. I’m a proud father through IVF and, without it, I wouldn’t have my two beautiful children. At not insignificant personal cost, Andy has championed LGBT rights throughout his time in Parliament. This is something that I can identify with, and I know it isn’t something that’s easy to do.

I sympathise with Andy as the fight for equality is never easy, and I, like so many others, have struggled in the past. But we have come such a long way and he has been a huge support and has always been an advocate of same sex marriage. Without advocates like Andy, I would not have been allowed to marry the man I love.

However, much more needs to be done. Despite this progress, LGBT families don’t always have it easy. There is still prejudice against LGBT people in our society. From my own work with my company “Out with the Family”, I’ve seen first hand how this prejudice affects people and I have worked tirelessly to make a difference. I was aware of the need to combat prejudice against LGBT parents, their straight allies, and even their children. We’ve made enormous steps forward in the few years we’ve been operating and I am acutely aware of the importance of having a safe, inclusive atmosphere for LGBT families – not just within their own communities, but with committed advocates in Westminster.

I’ve also worked closely with Diversity Role models, the Terrence Higgins Trust and the Albert Kennedy Trust. Through this, I know that there is much more to do, but our progress since 1972 has been an inspiration to me and a drive to do more.

Andy’s record speaks for itself. I am proud to say that I’m backing him to be the next Leader of our country, and I know that he will fight to make sure that Britain becomes the truly equal society that I know it can be.