This is why Liberal Democrats should make history and name Layla Moran the first-ever openly LGBT+ leader of a major political party

Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Lynne Featherstone, a member of the House of Lords and former equalities minister under the coalition government, explains for PinkNews why she believes Layla Moran should be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats, and make history as the first openly LGBT+ leader of a major political party. 

As the first openly LGBT+ candidate for the leadership of a UK-wide political party, Layla Moran is a brilliant force in the Liberal Democrats and in the political landscape.

When she bounded into the news last year after coming out as pansexual, she clearly demonstrated that she treads her own path. Her vision for the Liberal Democrats is a fairer, greener and more compassionate country where everyone has the security to live life as they choose – including her!

I know Layla well and have seen her in action as an energetic and passionate voice for our values.

She is incredibly active in standing up for the LGBT+ community. She recently tabled a motion to parliament to outlaw LGBT+ conversion therapy.

In an opinion piece for i, she excoriated the government for its lack of action two years on from pledging to ban this outdated and harmful practice As she stated: “As a liberal, I believe that the right to love who you want is fundamental.

Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

Layla Moran, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon. (Leon Neal/Getty Images)

“Lawmakers and the government have a responsibility to protect and support their citizens. That means all of us, irrespective of gender or sexual orientation.

“Protecting LGBT+ people isn’t an optional extra, or a nice fluffy liberal add-on. It is a fundamental right.”

Layla is also incandescent about reports that Boris Johnson is planning to scrap reforms to the Gender Recognition Act that would make gender change easier.

Her position is crystal clear: “Trans rights are human rights. Trans women are women. Trans men are men.”

The trans community face a horrendous level of discrimination and harassment and Layla has vowed that she and the Liberal Democrats will stand in solidarity with them and tirelessly campaign for equal rights for all.

She is urging the government to remove the current ban on gay or bisexual men donating blood unless they’ve been celibate for at least six months. She has argued that being able to donate blood should be based on scientific evidence not on sexual orientation, with individual risk assessments instead of arbitrary rules that exclude entire groups.

At a time when the NHS is urging men, in particular, to donate their blood and antibodies to use for research for treatments against coronavirus, the rules seem especially nonsensical.

Gay and bisexual men should not be denied the right to help in the fight against COVID-19. The health secretary should urgently amend these outdated rules and allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood and antibodies like everybody else.

But Layla is not just a great champion for LGBT+ rights. Her clarity of purpose and vision is carried through all that she believes in.

Her stance on education – built on her experience as a former teacher, to invest in the early years to reduce inequality and introduce a nationwide adult retraining system.

On the economy – consider wellbeing alongside GDP and introduce a Universal Basic Income so no one is left behind. On the environment – have a green-powered recovery that ensures we become not just carbon neutral but carbon negative.

On all these areas, Layla has an ambitious, progressive and liberal vision to move the Liberal Democrats and the country forward and build a fairer and more compassionate country where everyone has a chance to thrive.

Layla Moran. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Layla Moran. (WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The face of the UK has transformed in recent years and it continues to change.  It’s time our country had a UK-wide party leader who embodies that and who can inspire future generations to be the best versions of themselves, reflecting the values of tolerance, inclusivity and diversity that are so integral to our modern society.

Today is the last day that people can join the Liberal Democrats and still vote for the party’s next leader.

So I would urge anyone who isn’t a member and agrees with these values to join us in making history and backing Layla so together we can continue fighting for a more equal future.

Layla is the fresh start we need. Just like Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy – this potential leader of the Liberal Democrats will make liberalism mainstream once again.