Prime Minister Theresa May’s LGBT legacy as she resigns

UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Friday (May 24) that she will resign next month after failing to negotiate a Brexit deal in parliament ahead of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Standing outside 10 Downing Street on Friday morning, May revealed she will stand down as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7. She will remain prime minister until a new leader has been elected to take over.

“It is a matter of deep regret that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” said May. “My successor will have to find a consensus. Consensus will only be possible if those on both sides of the debate ‘compromise’.”

A tearful May said it has been “the honour of my life” to serve “the country that I love.”

May has a complex legacy on LGBT+ issues. We explore the former Prime Minister’s stance on LGBT+ rights and why she will no longer be UK Prime Minister.

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Number 10 Downing Street.

British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves Number 10 Downing Street. (Jack Taylor/Getty)

The politician first entered politics as a firm opponent of equality, but evolved her stance as Home Secretary, and as Prime Minister reaffirmed the party’s commitments on LGBT+ rights—though she also faced criticism from LGBT rights activists.

Why is Theresa May resigning as Prime Minister?

Theresa May has faced staunch opposition to her proposed Brexit deals enshrining Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Parliament has rejected May’s deals three times and called for her to resign as prime minister.

The writing was on the wall this week when her latest deal failed to make it through parliament and was derided by members of her own party.

Theresa May’s Early career

Theresa May began her career in Parliament when she was elected MP for Maidenhead in 1997.

Under Iain Duncan Smith’s leadership, May obeyed the Tory whip to vote against many early reforms, opposing an equal age of consent and same-sex adoptions, even where others including George Osborne and Boris Johnson rebelled in favour of equality.

But within a few years, pro-LGBT voices had become more mainstream within the Conservative Party, and May’s stance was evolving.

Theresa May at the Conservative Party conference in 2009

Theresa May at the Conservative Party Spring Forum on April 26, 2009 in Cheltenham, England. (Matt Cardy/Getty)

In 2004, under leader Michael Howard, she abstained on gender recognition laws, and voted in favour of civil partnerships for same-sex couples, backing a LGBT rights measure for the first time.

May would later apologise for her early votes.

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