UK has record number of LGBTQ+ MPs as Labour wins crucial ‘red wall’ by-election

Labour leader Keir Starmer (L) and Simon Lightwood walking down a street

Labour’s Simon Lightwood has won the Wakefield by-election, becoming the 61st active LGBTQ+ MP.

Lightwood won the Wakefield seat with 13,166 votes – a majority of 4,925 – returning a ‘red wall’ seat back to Labour and presenting a fresh test to Boris Johnson’s leadership.

In an interview with Sky News after the result, Lightwood spoke of the “lies and deceit” of the current government, saying: “Boris Johnson, your contempt for this country is no longer tolerated, your government has no ideas, no plans to address the big issues facing our country.”

The by-election was triggered when Conservative MP Imran Ahmad Khan resigned after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old. In 2019 Khan was the first Tory MP to have been elected by Wakefield since 1932.

This was the first significant test of prime minister Boris Johnson’s leadership since the no-confidence vote earlier this month. On the same night, the Tories also lost a seat in Tiverton and Honiton to the Liberal Democrats – that by-election was called after Tory MP Neil Parish resigned, having admitted to watching pornography in parliament.

After the results came in, Tory party chair Oliver Dowden resigned.

Lightwood added that his win was a “tremendous victory for the Labour Party, we’re re-building that red wall under the leadership of Keir Starmer.”

The former NHS worker was selected to compete in the election last month after vowing to win the seat back “for the people of Wakefield.” The 42-year-old currently lives in West Yorkshire with his husband.

His introduction into the Commons marks the continuing rise in LGBTQ+ politicians in the UK, with Lightwood being the 61st currently active LGBTQ+ MP across five parties.

Britain’s parliament is considered one of the “gayest in the world” as of the 2019 election, which had 45 publicly LGBTQ+ MPs active at the time. Several MPs have come out over the past few years, including Nadia Whittome, Charlotte Nichols, and Olivia Blake.

One of the more impactful announcements was Jamie Wallis coming out as the first openly transgender MP. The Tory MP for Bridgend came out in a statement on March 30, where he outlined his struggles with gender dysphoria, saying “I’m trans. Or to be more accurate, I want to be.”