Labour peer Michael Cashman, known for first gay kiss on British television, tops Rainbow List

 

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The Independent Online

The Labour peer Michael Cashman has topped The Independent on Sunday’s Rainbow List, which celebrates lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The annual chart, formerly known as the Pink List, features Britain’s 101 most influential LGBT people, including politicians, commentators, campaigners, actors and musicians.

Lord Cashman, the Labour special envoy on LGBT issues worldwide, served as an MEP for 15 years. The 63-year-old, who helped to found the gay rights charity Stonewall in 1989, knocked the journalist and transgender rights activist Paris Lees off the top spot into second place.

Before becoming a politician he starred in EastEnders, taking part in the first gay kiss on mainstream British television in 1987.

Lord Cashman, whose long-term partner, Paul Cottingham, died of cancer last month, posted a message on Twitter in which he congratulated those on the list and thanked “our families and friends who support us and give us courage”.

He added: “And on Remembrance Sunday recalling the thousands of generations persecuted and discriminated against. Because of them we achieve, and defend.” A new entry, Vicky Beeching, was ranked third. The religious commentator and musician announced she was a lesbian in an interview in The Independent in August, and her campaign for changes to the Church’s stance on equality and diversity has earned her huge support.

 

The judges honoured those who have “long and brave histories of standing up for equal rights, even when equality wasn’t even legal”, alongside younger people whose openness makes clear that “who they are and whom they love need not be a barrier to success in any walk of life”.

New faces on the list included the soul singer Sam Smith, the asylum campaigner Aderonke Apata, the diver Tom Daley, and the MP Crispin Blunt.

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