Jeremy Corbyn pledges renewed focus on LGBT equality in leadership contest

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to renew focus on equality and LGBT rights amid a leadership challenge from Owen Smith.

Left-winger Mr Corbyn is facing a challenge for the party leadership from Owen Smith, amid a slide in the polls which has seen Labour fall more than 10 points below the governing Conservatives.

A long-time supporter of equality, Mr Corbyn has attended several LGBT rallies since his election as Labour leader last year.

But Mr Corbyn’s critics say that under his leadership focus has been lost on actual LGBT topics and legislative issues – with Labour’s LGBT envoy Lord Cashman resigning from his role and strongly criticising his leadership.

Mr Corbyn also recently scrapped the dedicated shadow cabinet role for Women and Equalities issues, a key commitment of his predecessor Ed Miliband, combining the brief with Education and handing it to new MP Angela Rayner after a wave of resignations.

As the party’s leadership contest rumbles on, Mr Corbyn has today made ten pledges for the future of his leadership, including a renewed focus on equality.

One of the ten pledges is “action to secure an equal society”.

It states: “We will ensure that the human rights of all citizens are respected and all are protected from discrimination and prejudice.

“We will take action to tackle violence against women and girls, racism and discrimination on the basis of faith, and secure real equality for LGBT and disabled people.”

His challenger Owen Smith is also a supporter of LGBT equality.

Mr Smith recently hit out at the government for opening a new trading hub in the US state of North Carolina – despite controversy over the state’s anti-LGBT law.

Despite a major business-led boycott of the state, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox announced the trade centre as part of “our ambitious vision for an open and outward-looking UK economy includes growing our footprint in the most important markets around the world”.