House of Commons speaker John Bercow declares trans rights are human rights in passionate speech at PinkNews Awards

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John Bercow, the speaker of the House of Commons, proudly declared that “trans rights are human rights” at the 2019 PinkNews Awards.

Bercow took to the stage to accept a Special Award in recognition of his tireless support of LGBT+ issues during his 22-year political career.

He was honoured by his US counterpart, speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called him “a steadfast ally and a committed fighter in the struggle to end discrimination and honour the dignity and worth of every human being”.

In his acceptance speech, Bercow recalled the journey to legalising same-sex marriage, and compared this to the current struggle faced by trans and non-binary people today.

“From the criminalisation of a type of love 50 years ago to almost complete legal equality today, that is one hell of a journey,” he said.

“But as others have noted, I feel I must acknowledge that there is still work to be done, work to be done on trans rights, because trans rights are human rights.”
His words were met with a tremendous applause from the audience of LGBT+ advocates, celebrities and politicians.

He continued: “The lesson to be learned is there are no final victories. You have to keep going over and over again, never stopping, never stopping, never stopping, until the point at which the necessary legal deed is done and the change has been secured,” in reference to the long-promised reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.

“So there’s much more to do on trans rights, more widely a cultural challenge to boot.”

And he had harsh words for those continuing to protest against LGBT-inclusive education in schools.

“What sickens me to the core, my friends, is when people parade, nay, masquerade, under the banner of parental rights [in] the pursuit of a bigoted agenda, and I think we’ve got a right to say no to that sort of bigotry.

“We will insist on the triumph of decent civilised pro-equality values in our schools and we will keep going until that is universal.”

Bercow will be stepping down as Speaker on October 31. Although the holder of the office of speaker is required to be politically independent, he repeatedly stood up for LGBT+ rights during his decade in the prominent role.

He has helped launch two LGBT+ charities – Diversity Role Models, which is aimed at tackling homophobic bullying in schools, and Kaleidoscope Trust, a nonprofit organisation that campaigns for LGBT+ people abroad.