After a decade with LGBT+ Conservatives, more than half of them in the chair, it’s time to hand-on the baton.
I’m not disappearing completely. One of my proudest achievements here has been the LGBT+ Conservatives Candidates’ Fund, which has supported so many people into parliament and raised tens of thousands of pounds. As the fund matures it is moving into a new governance structure, and I hope to play a role in that future.
I am thrilled to be succeeded by Elena Bunbury. I know that she will bring new energy to the organisation, and I hope it will continue to thrive under her leadership.
I am so grateful to everyone who has supported me on this journey. In particular Emma Warman, Matthew Green and John Cope who have provided wise counsel as Deputy Chairman. To Sean Anstee who has transformed the finances of the organisation. To Niall McDougall and Ben Joce, who have grown our membership and introduce a new system. To Craig Smith and Richard Salt who have transformed our pride programme. And to Matthew Green, Owen Meredith, and Scott Seaman-Digby who have helped me grow The Fund.
To David Cameron and Theresa May who led from the front and changes both our party and country by introducing new rights for LGBT people, and to Boris Johnson who committing to taking the LGBT Action Plan forward at the recent election.
To Maria Miller, Nicky Morgan, Justine Greening, Caroline Dinenage, Nick Gibb, Penny Mourdant, Baroness Williams and everyone at the Government Equalities Office who have all been at the forefront of bringing about the change we needed to see.
Most of all I’m grateful to the members and my fellow officers, who have supported the organisation throughout a decade of significant change. We’ve attended prides, conferences, fundraisers and campaign events across the UK together.
Together we have:
- Elected more LGBT parliamentarians than any other party, in the world, ever.
- Thrown the biggest and best parties at Conservative Party Conference.
- Taken a key role in the elections of Conservative Party Leaders.
- Formalised our constitution, changed our name, affiliated to the Conservative Party, launched the Candidates' Fund, held our first conference, and generally got serious about being a Conservative voice in the LGBT+ community and an LGBT+ voice in the Conservative Party.
- Delivered same-sex marriage across the UK, the Turing Pardon, and harsher penalties for hate crimes.
- Delivered on tackling homophobia in schools and sport by investing £2 million in schools to help them tackle homophobic bullying and launching a Sports Charter to stamp out homophobia and transphobia in sport. LGBT-inclusive relationship education in schools starts imminently.
- Delivered on health improvements and gay and bisexual men and now routinely offered the HPV vaccine and appointed the first National Adviser for LGBT Health.
- Taken a role on the international stage to promote our values of equality. The UK has set up a new funding mechanism – UK AID Connect – to promote LGBT inclusion and through this, we are making £12 million available over 4 years for a consortium of diverse organisations – civil society, think tanks and private sector organisations – to work on LGBT inclusion.
We can’t yet consider this “job done” just yet though.
We know that health inequality is still a major concern for many LGBT+ people and in particular, the access lesbian and bisexual women have to vital services, health provision for trans people, and the provision of PrEP - the Secretary of State Matt Hancock has made bold commitments for routine commissioning of PrEP, but with three weeks to go, we must turn these into action.
We must continue to deliver on our work to create LGBT-inclusive schools by supporting teachers to deliver the new RSE programme and continue our work on bullying.
We must deliver on our commitment to end “conversion therapy”, respond to the Gender Recognition Act consultation, and properly tackle the issues of LGBT people who face homelessness. We must continue to work with commissioners and providers to ensure that support services for LGBT victims of violence against women and girls comply with the Equality Act 2010.