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LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

LGBT+ Liberal Democrats is a British lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other sexual minorities equality group of the Liberal Democrats political party. The organisation is one of several Specified Associated Organisations, giving it special status within the party, and has been referred to as one of the "most important" of such groups.[3][4] The group campaigns both within the party and UK-wide on LGBT+ issues, as well as mentoring and providing advice to the party's candidates.[5]

LGBT+ Liberal Democrats
Rainbow bird of liberty.png
Rainbow Bird of Liberty logo
PurposeLGBT+ Equality
Jennie Rigg
Main organ
AffiliationsLiberal Democrats


Formation and early yearsEdit

Initially known as Democrats for Lesbian & Gay Action, or DELGA for short, the organisation was formed in 1988 from the groups "Liberal Lesbian & Gay Action" and "Social Democrats for Lesbian & Gay Action". The parent parties of those organisations, the Liberal Party and SDP, had merged to form the Social and Liberal Democrats, known generally as the Democrats.[6] The name was officially altered to be Liberal Democrats for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Action in 1996, including bisexual and transgender people in the title and reflecting the renaming of the party to the Liberal Democrats. However, the shorthand DELGA remained in use until 2011, when the organisation renamed to "LGBT+ Liberal Democrats".[7]

One of the early campaigns by the group was "16 or bust". Started in 1991, it pushed to lower the age of consent for sex between gay men from 21 to 16, equal with heterosexual couples. This was in contrast to the approach of organisations such as Stonewall who were in favour of lowering the age to 18, seeing it as an achievable compromise.[1] Although the first round of votes in parliament only lowered the age of consent to 18, it was finally brought in line with opposite-sex couples in 2000.[8]

Fringe eventsEdit

LGBT+ Liberal Democrats runs a series of fringe events discussing various topic issues at Liberal Democrat conference each year,[9] including regular joint fringes with LGB campaigning organisation Stonewall.[10]

Events at a joint 2011 fringe received widespread coverage after then Stonewall Chair, Ben Summerskill, stated that his organisation did not support equal marriage and that he believed it would cost £5 billion to implement. The statement resulted in critical comments from prominent campaigner Peter Tatchell[11] and openly gay Liberal Democrat MP Stephen Gilbert, who stated "it should not be up to me as a member of parliament to lobby Stonewall on equal rights. It should be Stonewall lobbying me".[12] The controversy later caused a split within Stonewall itself, following further criticism from founder members Ian McKellen and Michael Cashman.[13]

2013 apologiesEdit

In 2013, both G4S and TalkTalk were forced to apologise to the organisation, following separate incidents. In the first incident G4S, who provided conference security, had insisted on checking banners being carried by members of the group for "potentially offensive campaign material".[14] Three months later, TalkTalk issued an apology after their web filter classified the organisation's web site as pornographic.[15][16]

Views on Tim FarronEdit

Many members of the group, while denying that former party leader Tim Farron is a homophobe,[17] have been openly critical of his answers to questions about his views on the sinfulness of gay sex during the 2017 general election, viewing it as a distraction from the party's pro-LGBT record.[18] Former head of the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, Chris Cooke, made unsubstantiated complaints to the party about Farron's personal conduct when "drunk", and admitted that he "made up a story to cause trouble" following his suspension over Twitter comments directed at Conservative MP Anna Soubry.[19]

Farron's continued fraternisation with evangelical anti-'gay lobby' groups has been seen by the LGBT+ Liberal Democrats lapse of judgement and asking him to apologise for a "lack of care" shown to the LGBT community.[20]

Previous ChairsEdit

  • Jennie Rigg (Feb 2017-present)[2]
  • Chris Cooke (Jan-Feb 2017)[21]
  • Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett (2016)
  • Dave Page (2015)[2]
  • Ed Fordham (2014)[22]
  • Adrian Trett (July 2010 - 2013)[23]
  • Benji Starr (Jan - Jun 2010)
  • Jen Yockney (2007–2009)[24]
  • Kelvin Meyrick (2006)[25]
  • Richard Porter (2005)[26]
  • Alison Wheeler (2004)
  • Denys Robinson (2003)
  • Hannah Kaitlin-Boyer (2001–2002)
  • Jonathan Simpson (1998–2000)
  • Mark Baker (1998)
  • Brian Stone (1989)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Rayside, David Morton (1998). On the Fringe: Gays and Lesbians in Politics. Cornell University Press. ISBN 9780801483745.
  2. ^ a b c O'Connell, Zoe (4 December 2014). "LGBT+ Liberal Democrats elect new chair and executive". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats.
  3. ^ Russell, Andrew; Fieldhouse, Edward (2005). Neither Left Nor Right: The Liberal Democrats and the Electorate. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719066016.
  4. ^ Dawson, Heather (2003). Using the Internet for Political Research: Practical Tips and Hints. Elsevier. ISBN 9781780630595.
  5. ^ Deans, David (6 January 2015). "Openly gay Rhondda MP Chris Bryant expresses 'shock and surprise' at claims there are Assembly Members reluctant to come out". Wales Online.
  6. ^ Pack, Mark (13 April 2009). "The Alliance: a chronology".
  7. ^ "AGM outcome a plus". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats. 17 September 2011.
  8. ^ "Q and A: The age of consent". BBC News. 29 November 2000.
  9. ^ "LGBT+ Lib Dems guide to Conference". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats. 17 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Party Conferences 2014". Stonewall.
  11. ^ "Stonewall undermines campaign for gay marriage". Peter Tatchell. 21 September 2010.
  12. ^ Mulholland, Hélène (21 September 2010). "Liberal Democrats back same-sex marriage motion". Guardian.
  13. ^ Milmo, Cahal (2 October 2010). "Stonewall is split by row about same-sex marriages". Independent.
  14. ^ Wheeler, Brian (17 September 2013). "Lib Dem conference: G4S apology to gay rights activists". BBC News.
  15. ^ "Official Lib Dem LGBT website blocked by TalkTalk's 'porn filter'". Pink News. 20 December 2013.
  16. ^ Roberts, Scott (20 December 2013). "TalkTalk apologises for using 'porn filter' to block access to Lib Dem LGBT website". Pink News.
  17. ^ Mason, Chris (18 July 2015). "Tim Farron's religious convictions leave some Lib Dems fretting". BBC News. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  18. ^ Braidwood, Ella (18 September 2018). "Lib Dems mock Tim Farron's views on gay sex in singalong". PinkNews. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  19. ^ Mortimer, Caroline (18 June 2017). "Tim Farron subject of false allegations by former Lib Dem LGBT activist". The Independent. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  20. ^ Duffy, Nick (10 May 2018). "Tim Farron faces Lib Dem anger over event criticising 'gay lobby'". PinkNews. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Liberator 384" (PDF). Liberator.
  22. ^ "The votes are in - LGBT+ Lib Dems 2014". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats. 12 November 2013.
  23. ^ "New Team for 2013". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats. 1 January 2013.
  24. ^ "DELGA Newsletter" (PDF). DELGA. September 2007.
  25. ^ "New DELGA committee for 2006". DELGA. 1 January 2006.
  26. ^ "New chair for DELGA". DELGA. 3 January 2005.