After the general election, our Chair wrote this to our members and supporters.
Just under five years ago, the Liberal Democrats met in Birmingham to discuss a single item of business - that we should go into Coalition with the Conservatives. LGBT+ Lib Dems submitted an amendment, calling on the Parliamentary party to ensure that the rights of LGBT+ people were protected from the Conservatives. Lynne Featherstone made that pledge, and in Government we delivered many good things for LGBT+ people, though not as many as we would have liked.
The threat to LGBT+ equality is not a Lib Dem / Conservative coalition where David Cameron can safely ignore his LGBT+ phobic right wingers - we saw that with the same-sex marriage law, where the Government had a majority in favour despite roughly half of Tory MPs voting against, and where no Labour votes were required to pass that legislation. The true threat is a narrow Conservative majority where the likes of Peter Bone will demand, and receive, concessions in return for supporting the Government.
The need for a strong political voice for LGBT+ people has not been greater since the 1980s. The Liberal Democrats have always been that strong political voice, leading where others have followed, driven by principle not focus-grouped expedience and the "pink vote". I am determined we will continue to drive the narrative in UK politics.
However, with only 8 MPs, the Liberal Democrats' voice will be harder to hear from Parliament and from constituency offices. We can be particularly upset at the loss of our "Six Saints", those Lib Dem MPs whose work for us was above even the high standard set by our party - John Leech, Lynne Featherstone, Stephen Williams, Julian Huppert, Jo Swinson and Stephen Gilbert, and by the lack of diversity in our remaining Parliamentary party.
It falls to us, the ordinary members of the party, to advance the cause of LGBT+ equality and of the political party which has always been there for us, and always will. Since the close of polls, over 10,000 people have joined the Lib Dems. Each one can play their part. Better that they join late than never.
Next weekend is one of the first Prides of the season, in Exeter. Many more will follow. Each one is an opportunity for us to talk about our record of action, about what we want to achieve, about how LGBT+ equality is an inherent part of Liberalism. I am calling on you to pledge, right now, that you will work with your local and regional parties, with support from LGBT+ Lib Dems, to ensure a Lib Dem presence at these events as part of our efforts to rebuild the party. Contact us to pledge your support.
I will do my best as Chair of LGBT+ Lib Dems to work with our membership and party to provide opportunities to promote LGBT+ equality within the party, and the party within the LGBT+ communities. Please do take up these opportunities, and encourage your friends to join LGBT+ Lib Dems and support the work our activists, Vice Presidents, Patron etc. do.
Chair, LGBT+ Lib Dems
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