Out & Proud, the LGBT campaign working to build a positive future for the UK outside the European Union, hosted its launch event last night at the Light Lounge of Soho’s iconic Ku Bar in Central London. Over 150 people, of all ages and political persuasions, attended the event, and heard speeches from Armed Forces Minister Penny Mordaunt and James Wharton, the first openly gay person to appear on the cover of Soldier magazine. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, sent a video message saying, ‘I’m Out & Proud’.
Penny Mordaunt, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, announced that this year’s Brighton Pride would become first LGBT event in British history to be offered a Red Arrows flypast, and said:
“I’m tremendously proud of the progress we have made in the Armed Forces on LGBT issues. I know that you understand why our freedoms are so important – and that you know that freedom needs defending.
“The freedom for every individual and human being to thrive, to reach their full potential – and to do that we need democracy and accountability, and we need our sovereignty back.
“The gains that have been made in our country and elsewhere have been because of that accountability.
“All that is at stake – not just our freedom, but our ability to defend it. Working in Romania after their revolution, I saw what happens to countries when you have the absence of democracy. We take democracy for granted, but it’s a fragile thing that needs defending.”
Iraq War veteran James Wharton, who was the first openly gay person to appear on the cover of Soldier magazine in 2009, said:
“It was a privilege to speak at the launch of Out and Proud, and to introduce Penny Mordaunt. The Minister mentioned our national security – something I, and many of my veteran friends both currently serving and retired, care deeply about. We echo her words and concerns about the future of our national security beyond 23 June.”
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, in a video prepared for the event, said:
“We in Britain have the most progressive attitudes towards LGBT people anywhere in the world and it’s a wonderful thing to see.
“But let me ask you a question, did those rights, those freedoms, that spirit come form the EU? Or did it come form people campaigning in our courts, our Parliament?
“It was us, the British people, that created that environment of happiness and contentment for LGBT people and it is absolutely vital that we fight for those rights today.”
Adam Lake, Director of Out & Proud, said:
“Our group aims to dispel the myth that LGBT rights in the UK derive from EU membership. Out of 28 EU members six still do not formally recognise gay relationships in any form, sixteen have opted not to legalise gay marriage and seven feel so strongly that the concept of gay marriage is abhorrent that they have a constitutional ban on it ever coming into place. Conversely the decriminalisation of same sex acts, equal age of consent, equal partnerships and marriages, LGBT adoption and equal access to IVF and the right to change gender have all come in to place because of laws created and passed by the UK parliament.”