Nancy Pelosi presents John Bercow with LGBT rights award

Commons Speaker given PinkNews 'Special Award' by US House of Representatives counterpart 

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Wednesday 16 October 2019 19:13
Nancy Pelosi announces John Bercow as PinkNews special award winner for work for LGBT issues

John Bercow has been handed a prestigious award for his work on LGBT issues.

The House of Commons Speaker received the PinkNews Special Award for his support for LGBT rights during his 22 years as an MP.

The prize was presented by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who said Mr Bercow had been "a committed fighter in the struggle to end discrimination".

Mr Bercow resigned from the Tory frontbench in 2002 over then leader Iain Duncan Smith's opposition to unmarried people adopting children.

The next year he became one of the most prominent Tory supporters of the repeal of the "Section 28" laws that banned teaching about homosexuality in schools.

He is also the president of charities the Kaleidoscope Trust, which defends the rights of LGBT people around the world, and Diversity Role Models, which tackles homophobic bullying in schools.

The awards ceremony was held at Church House, the headquarters of the Church of England, and was attended by senior politicians including Jeremy Corbyn, Diane Abbott, Sir Keir Starmer and Ian Blackford.

Mr Bercow, who has been hit by a string of bullying allegations in recent years, all of which he has denied, announced last month that he would step down as Speaker on 31 October - the day that Britain is due to leave the EU.

The election for his successor will take place on 4 November, with a number of senior parliamentarians, including Harriet Harman, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Sir Edward Leigh and Dame Rosie Winterton among those vying for the role.

Presenting the award to her "friend" Mr Bercow via a video address, Ms Pelosi said: "In both the United Kingdom and the United States, generations of extraordinary individuals have fought tirelessly to advance the cause of justice and make real the promise of equality for all LGBTQ individuals.

"For nearly two decades tonight's Special Award recipient has been a steadfast ally and a committed fighter in the struggle to end discrimination and honour the dignity and worth of every human being."

She continued: "His voice and values have been instrumental in repealing anti-LGBTQ laws, ending the outrageous ban on patriotic LGBTQ service members and advancing inclusive, diverse schools and work places that strengthen our communities.

"Despite this progress we all know that our work remains incomplete, that our march towards justice and equality will not be deterred. Hatred will never defeat love and pride."​

Accepting the award, Mr Bercow said: "From the criminalisation of a type of love 50 years ago to almost complete legal equality today, that is one hell of a journey.

“But as others have noted, I feel I must acknowledge that there is still work to be done, work to be done on trans rights, because trans rights are human rights.”

He added: "The lesson to be learned is there are no final victories. You have to keep going over and over again, never stopping, never stopping, never stopping, until the point at which the necessary legal deed is done and the change has been secured."

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