England Lionesses Leah Williamson and Beth Mead among LGBTQ+ heroes on New Year Honours List 2023

England Lionesses Leah Williamson (left) and Beth Mead

Out and proud England Lionesses Leah Williamson and Beth Mead and have been included on the New Year Honours List 2023 following the team’s sensational victory at the Euros 2022 this summer.

Captain Williamson, who proudly sported a rainbow armband throughout the tournament, receives an OBE for services to Association Football, while Mead receives an MBE after bringing home the first major trophy for an England senior football team in 56 years.

The pair’s teammate Ellen White, who retired following the Euros 2022 as England’s top female goal scorer, also receives an MBE.

The England Lionesses’ victory at the Euros 2022 was hailed as a breakthrough moment for women’s football, while the squad’s numerous out gay players ensured another win was scored for LGBTQ+ visibility in sport.

The England women's team embrace against a backdrop of black and white fans
Three out LGBTQ+ members of the England women’s football squad are included on the New Year Honours List 2023 (PinkNews/Getty images)

For Mead, who is currently in a relationship with Arsenal teammate Vivianne Miedema, the MBE comes less than 10 days after she became just the second out LGBTQ+ athlete to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award.

The New Year Honours List is released annually to mark “the incredible public service of individuals from across the UK” and this year includes several inspiring LGBTQ+ figures.

You may like to watch

Out gay Labour MP Chris Bryant is set to become Sir Chris Bryant after receiving a knighthood for political and public service.

The MP for Rhondda and Chair of the Commons Committee on Standards has served in parliament for more than 20 years after first being elected at the 2001 general election and has been a vocal champion of equality.

Labour MP Chris Bryant has received a knighthood in the New Year Honours List 2023 (Alex B. Huckle/Getty)
Labour MP Chris Bryant has received a knighthood in the New Year Honours List 2023 (Alex B. Huckle/Getty)

In 2020, Bryant claimed that early in his parliamentary career he was told by a “very senior figure in parliament” that he “shouldn’t be an MP” because of his sexuality.

Meanwhile, Sophie Ingle, the out gay captain of the Wales women’s football team, has been appointed an OBE for services to Association Football. The 31-year-old Chelsea star was the only Welsh player to be included in the Great Britain women’s Olympic football team at Tokyo 2020.

Two leading LGBTQ+ HIV campaigners are also included on the New Year Honours List 2023.

Ian Green, the Chief Executive of leading HIV and sexual health charity Terrence Higgins Trust (THT), receives an OBE for services to charity and public health, while Lieutenant Commander Oliver Brown is awarded an MBE in recognition of his work to overturn the ban on HIV positive people joining the UK’s military.

Green, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1996 and has led THT since 2016, said he was “thrilled and honoured” to receive an OBE.

Gareth Thomas, Prince Harry and THT's Ian Green at Twickenham
Terrence Higgins Trust (THT) chief executive Ian Green (right) with Prince Harry and Gareth Thomas at Twickenham Stadium (THT)

“As someone living with HIV, my work is much more than just ‘a job’ and I have gladly invested time, energy and passion in order to drive the change for those affected by HIV and poor sexual health,” he said in a statement.  

Lieutenant Commander Brown challenged UK military rules around HIV after his own diagnosis in 2019 saw him ‘medically downgraded’ by the Navy. A ban on people living with HIV joining the military was eventually lifted in June 2022 and the policy for serving officers updated.

“My life and my Naval career was changed by three letters when I was diagnosed with HIV out of the blue in October 2019,” Lieutenant Commander Brown said in a statement. “Now my life has been changed once again by three different letters and I’m truly honoured to receive an MBE for my part in ensuring military policy on HIV is based on the most up-to-date medical evidence.

“I fought for these changes so that no one else would feel the way I did, for the many others living with HIV in the forces and for all those who will now join in the future. HIV isn’t and shouldn’t be a barrier to anything, and I’m very proud of the part I played to ensure that’s the case in the navy and other armed forces.”

Another heroic LGBTQ+ community figure on the New Year Honours List is Helen Belcher, who receives an OBE for services to the transgender community.

The activist and politician founded the charity Trans Media Watch in 2009 to improve coverage of transgender and intersex issues and currently serves as director of TransActual, an organisation dedicated to educating the public on trans issues.

Elsewhere, Saleem Fazal and David Mann receive MBEs for services to inclusion in the property industry. The pair co-founded Freehold, a networking forum for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender professionals working within the real estate sector.