Liz Barker on being awarded Peer of the Year by Pink News

Liz Barker gets award from Tim FarronLast week Pink News bestowed on me the honour of Peer of the Year. I am really chuffed to be nominated along with colleagues Brian Paddick and Paul Scriven because Pink News upholds high standards of journalism and is itself a brilliant campaigner for LGBT equality.   I am delighted to have won because this is recognition for all the effort that Liberal Democrats have made for equality from parish councils to the European Parliament.  No political party has worked longer and stronger for LGBT rights than the Liberal Democrats.

The award was a shot in the arm for battles which lie ahead. Others, including the SNP, will claim to have greater diversity of representation. The Tories and Labour are using equalities as a key weapon in their strategy to annihilate us. Just look at the constituencies of the MPs on the Women and Equalities Select Committee – Lewes, Eastleigh, Portsmouth South, Bath, Birmingham Yardley and Hampstead and Kilburn – so the message for 2020 is clear. Between now and then, should there be an event in your constituency featuring any community group included in the Equality Act, the Tories will be out in force.

The good news is that we have a strong record on equalities, and whilst we acknowledge that we have difficulty in getting candidates elected, we are trying. We continue to be at the forefront of policy development. The motion at Conference on the rights of trans people sent a strong signal that we will always lead the way on equalities.  So it is the job of each one of us, whenever we have access to any platform, to talk positively about our ongoing commitment to equalities.

We will have opportunities during the debates on replacement of the Human Rights Act to be consistent and unashamed enthusiasts for the European Convention on Human Rights.  Tories might be the new best buddies of LGBT voters, but we are, and always will be, the party which refuses to compromise on human rights, ever.

I am a member of the House of Lords only because thousands of you work hard in your communities.  Let’s make this a year in which we turn our record of sticking up for minorities into success in forthcoming elections.  I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail.

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