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Christine Jardine: We cannot rest until LGBT people across the globe can live freely

Yesterday was the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia. In a Commons debate, Christine Jardine talked about the progress made over the last 40 years and the work still to do to rid us of discrimination against LGBT people. She particularly mentioned the prevalence of transphobia at the moment Here’s her speech in full.

This is an unusual situation because it is an important debate to have, and yet one that we probably all wish was not necessary. My right hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Justine Greening), who is no longer in her place, talked about many countries being on a journey. Regardless of the progress that we have made in this country and what we might think of that progress, and while we have travelled further than many countries, we have not yet completed our journey.

One of the things about being a Liberal is that when it comes to protecting and standing up for LGBTI rights, one has a lot to live up to. As far back as 1975, we committed to a gay rights policy with a resolution in favour of the Campaign for Homosexual Equality’s proposed law reform Bill. What sticks out for me about that is that it was 1975—just over 40 years ago. As my hon. Friend the Member for Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East (Stuart C. McDonald) said, it is unimaginable that it was only 40 years ago that we were first talking of a campaign about full equality for homosexuals and equalising the age of consent for gay sex. If we fast-forward 40 years, at our 2015 conference we overwhelmingly opposed conversion therapy for all LGBT+ people—imagine that in 2015. We have travelled a considerable way, but we should not pat ourselves on the back quite yet, because we have a long way to go.

One of the most significant things for me—so far—was a statement made by Nick Clegg before the 2010 general election. When speaking about equal marriage, he said simply:

“All couples”—

I emphasise, all couples—

“should be able to make that commitment to one another”,

and now they can. Under the equal marriage legislation championed by Lynne Featherstone, of which I am particularly proud, we now live in a society where everyone is able to love equally.

I remember being asked just before the Scottish elections in 2011 whether I would support equal marriage. To me, that was a ridiculous question. What struck me was that if I had two children, one of whom was gay while the other was not, would I not want them to have the same rights, the same protection and the same respect from the law? What a ludicrous question.

Only today, my hon. Friend the Member for Ribble Valley (Mr Evans) has raised the issue of not being able to get married in church. I would like to make him an offer. Not that sort of offer. One of my friends is a Church of Scotland minister, who is gay. If I had a word with him, I am sure that he would be more than happy to oblige when it came to the ceremony.

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