Why I'm backing equal marriage

Richard Branson explains how his experiences in business and charity work have led him to join the Independent Voices campaign for equal marriage.

Share
Fact File
  • 1967 The Sexual Offences Act decriminalises sex between two men.

When I set up the first Virgin Records store in 1971, gay rights were a far cry from where they stand now. It was just five years after sex between men had been decriminalised and, that same summer, parliament passed an act defining marriage as a state possible only between a man and a woman.

From the very start, the Virgin group and I have been committed to furthering the cause of equality around the world, and gay rights is a crucial part of that battle.

In fact, my involvement started back in 1967, when a few friends and I founded a charity called the Student Advisory Centre that was able to offer some help and guidance to young people with a variety of problems. The Student Advisory Centre’s tagline was ‘Give us your headaches’, and we provided an outlet for people to discuss issues such as abortion, adoption, contraception, drugs, educational problems, marriage, psychiatric help and much else besides.

But one of the main things we were able to do was give assistance to young people in the process of coming out. This kind of service was extremely rare at the time, but we understood the benefits of it and took a huge number of calls.

Ignorance about homosexuality was rife in those days. Gay people were coming out into a world that still hugely discriminated against them because of the person they loved. Thankfully, today we live in much more enlightened times. There is, however, still one fundamental right that is being denied - the right for every couple in love to marry. And that is why I’m writing to support Independent Voices Equal Marriage campaign.

The UK is lagging behind the rest of the world on this vital issue. Government must remedy this at the earliest opportunity.

Marriage isn’t for everyone, but it should absolutely be an option to get married for everyone if they wish to do so. Getting married myself was one of the proudest moments of my life. My daughter Holly’s wedding was among the most delightful days I will ever experience. And I greatly look forward to my son Sam’s wedding sometime in the (hopefully not too distant) future.

There is no reason every person should not get to enjoy these moments for themselves, regardless of whether they are straight or gay. I have always liked the message of Stonewall, a lesbian, gay and bisexual rights charity, for anyone who has a problem with homosexuality. “Some people are gay. Get over it!” It’s time the law took heed of this simple slogan and stopped discriminating against the gay community by excluding them from the institution of marriage.

Many countries around the world already allow gay people to marry, including Canada, South Africa, Argentina, Sweden and Portugal. In the US, gay marriage is one of the key issues being debated in the build-up to the Presidential Election. But as things stand, the UK is lagging behind the rest of the world on this vital issue. Government must remedy this by changing the law at the earliest opportunity.

At Virgin, we have always prided ourselves on treating everybody the same regardless of their sexuality. Is it too much to ask for the law to do the same?

SIGN THE PETITION TODAY!

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones