Labour would appoint gay rights envoy to tackle international discrimination, says Ed Miliband

 

Political Editor

A Labour Government would appoint a gay rights envoy to tackle discrimination against gay people around the world, Ed Miliband has pledged.

The move came as Labour accused the Government of dragging its feet over allowing couples in civil partnerships to “upgrade” to a gay marriage. The first same-sex weddings will take place on Saturday, but the legislation allowing people in civil partnerships to marry has not yet been implemented.

Interviewed in the gay lifestyle magazine Attitude, Mr Miliband said a Labour Government would put human rights at the heart of its international agenda, and that gay rights would be “an absolutely fundamental part of that.” He described the transformation in the UK as “the most profound change for the better” in his lifetime but said the prejudice still seen abroad was “much more depressing.”

The Labour leader said: “I’m going to appoint an envoy on these issues, around the international agenda of LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights, because I think it’s a really important issue for an incoming Labour government.”  

Mr Miliband added: “It’s for other countries to pass their own laws, but I think we have a responsibility to speak up and stand up when we think there is discrimination and say we think this is not the right way to go and this is who we are and who we stand for, and equality is part of the values we want to uphold. I think you only have to look at what is happening in a lot of countries – and look at what’s happened in Russia recently – to see that there’s a massive battle we’ve got internationally on this. It’s absolutely terrible you’ve got increasing criminalisation, persecution, witch-hunts against gay people in lots of different countries.”

Labour sources said there was no reason to delay regulations allowing a civil partnership to be converted to a marriage. They expressed concern that couples could not “set a date”, saying that some people wanted to marry before moving abroad or because one partner is ill.

Gloria de Piero, the shadow Equalities Minister, has written to Maria Miller, the Culture Secretary, to express concern about the wait.

She said: “It is unclear why these provisions are taking so long to implement and I urge you now to ensure that the remaining legislation is brought before Parliament without further delay and to publish a clear timetable for doing so. This weekend let’s give all those couples to whom the right to marriage was extended with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act a reason to celebrate.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “Our priority is to ensure that couples, who are not in a civil partnership and who have been waiting to marry in order to formalise their relationship, are able to do so as soon as possible. We do not consider it fair to delay the first weddings until we are able to implement the conversion process. However, we are working hard to ensure that couples wanting to convert their civil partnerships into marriages can do so before the end of 2014.” 

The conversion process will ensure that couples in civil partnerships do not have a break in their legal relationship, which could have implications for rights such as their pension entitlements.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Sport
Brendan Rodgers is confident that Sterling will put pen to paper on a new deal at Anfield
footballLIVE: Follow all the latest from tonight's Capital One quarter-finals
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
people

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Voices
Jimmy Mubenga died after being restrained on an aircraft by G4S escorts
voicesJonathan Cox: Tragedy of Jimmy Mubenga highlights lack of dignity shown to migrants
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Life and Style
tech
News
Not quite what they were expecting
news

When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires

Arts and Entertainment
Angelina Jolie and Sony Pictures co-chairman Amy Pascal at the Golden Globes in 2011
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

Rebranding Christmas

More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...