MPs talk LGBT rights at the PinkNews Westminster summer reception

Politicians gathered at Westminster today (July 4) for the PinkNews summer reception, outlining their plans to improve LGBT+ equality and celebrating the UK’s LGBT+ community.

PinkNews chief executive Benjamin Cohen gave an introduction to the event, and said, “There’s been a campaign of misinformation by people opposed to trans rights.”

PinkNews CEO Benjamin Cohen with Labour MP Diane Abbott. (Paul Grace)

Ahead of the speeches, the Conservative defence secretary Penny Mordaunt told PinkNews that the results of the public consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act will be announced “as soon as possible.”

“I’m hopeful that we will be able to get both the response to the consultation and what we’re planning on doing out there before the summer recess,” Mordaunt told PinkNews.

Baroness Susan Williams, the Conservative equalities minister, called for a ban on gay conversion therapy.

“We will bring forward a consultation on ending the practice of so-called conversion therapy,” Williams said.

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“I will not pretend this work will be easy, there are likely to be difficult conversations to come but we must have them.

Williams also paid tribute to Marsha P. Johnson in her speech, acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots that were lead by black trans women.

Guests at the Westminster summer reception. (Paul Grace)

Surprise guest Chuka Umunna joked that he was “in the Liberal Democrats today.” He went on to say that the Lib Dems were prioritising bringing equal marriage to Northern Ireland.

“We want to amend Northern Ireland bill to ensure we have equal marriage,” Umunna said.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said that his department had begun a review into IVF equality for LGBT+ couples.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry said, “The so-called leader of the free world and his homophobic vice president are rolling back rights, leadership has to come from elsewhere—and I believe it should come from Britain.”

In a fiery speech, Thornberry went on to say, “We must demand Commonwealth countries abolish draconian laws [punishing LGBT+ people] or be expelled, and let’s start with Brunei.”

Environment secretary Michael Gove, the final political speaker, began his speech by joking that he had an “embarrassing confession” – that it was the second time in two months that he’d been on the same stage as Emily Thornberry, and the second time in two months that he had agreed with every word she said.

Thornberry shouted from the crowd, “That’s embarrassing for me.”

Gove said that “homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying online needs to be policed with as much rigour as other areas.”

“Online giants should be held to account. They need to clean up their act and protect our young people.”

Guests at the PinkNews summer reception. (Paul Grace)

Thornberry also announced nominees for two PinkNews awards: the Business Equality Award and the Role Model Award.

The PinkNews event took place at Church House in Westminster, London.

The Westminster reception was supported by Gilead and Octopus Group. Pride in London was the charity partner.

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