Speaker John Bercow: LGBT rights ‘must trump’ religious freedom

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has said that respect for LGBT people should be prioritised over ‘religious freedom’,  in a speech at the PinkNews summer reception in Parliament.

Speaker Bercow was hosting the PinkNews summer reception in Westminster in partnership with Zurich, which follows events in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast.

Although the holder of the office of Speaker is required to be politically independent, Bercow has repeatedly spoken up in favour of LGBT equality during his nine years in the role.

Speaker John Bercow at the PinkNews reception (Paul Grace)

He made no exception at the July 4 PinkNews reception in Speaker’s House, giving a “most explicit and unequivocal statement of support” for LGBT rights and PinkNews.

In his speech, the Speaker spoke about attempts to use ‘religious freedom’ to justify anti-LGBT bigotry.

Bercow said: “In terms of trying to heal the wounds of the nation fractured on other fronts, surely we want to close down sources of division, of rancour and of bitterness, and find bases on which to unite.

“Gay rights, lesbian rights, bi rights and trans rights are not gay rights, lesbian rights, bi rights or trans rights, they are human rights, and that seems to me to be the inescapable conclusion of any serious consideration of these matters.”

He added: “I respect people’s rights to adhere to and profess their faith, but for me, where there is a clash between somebody’s adherence to faith on the one hand and the acknowledgement of and demonstration of respect for human rights, the latter has to trump the former.

“If there are people who take a different view, no doubt they will profess it, but that is my absolutely clear sense.

“The rights of LGBT people of this country and of such people around the world are human rights and need to be acknowledged as such.”

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