Wednesday night’s PinkNews Awards in the UK, hosted by Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, was held in the State Rooms of the Speaker’s House in the Palace of Westminster.
The awards were hosted in recognition of the politicians, campaigning groups, and businesses for their support in the advancement of LGBT equality.
Bercow gave a speech in which he thanked the current Coalition Government as well as the previous Labour government for their advancement of LGBT rights “over the last decade or so.”
He added: “In the period 1997-2010, there was the single greatest raft of reforming equality legislation that has taken place under any government of any colour at any time.” And now under Conservative leader David Cameron the legislation for same-sex marriage has been passed.
The Awards ceremony came three months after Parliament passed the same-sex marriage Act in July. The law is due to be put into action by mid-2014.
The event also received an unexpected surprise, when Deputy Editor Joseph Patrick McCormick proposed to his fiancé James Hanson at the event right before Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg accepted a PinkNews Award. During his speech, he congratulated the couple and then compared the moment to his own marriage proposal at a train station.
Although Prime Minister David Cameron did not attend the event, he showed his congratulations and support today when he wrote to PinkNews to say, “I think few people expected a Conservative Prime Minister to introduce equal marriage, but I am proud to have done so.”
He went on write: “I am delighted that the love two people have for each other—and the commitment they want to make—is now recognised as equal. I think society is stronger when people commit to each other—and that commitment counts whether it’s between a man and a woman, or a man and a man, and a woman and a woman.”
However, he also made it clear that there is much work left to be done, saying, “There is much still to do to address issues like bullying and homophobic crime. We will continue this work urgently—and I know that we will be supported and urged on in those endeavours by many of those at the PinkNews Awards yesterday evening.”
His words echoed Secretary Yvette Cooper’s speech last night when she insisted people continue to fight concerns such as “tackling homophobic bullying in schools or making sure that ministers meet LGBT activists in Russia if they’re going to the Olympics.”
Gay Conservative MP Mike Freer won Parliamentary Speech of the Year Award for his moving speech in support of equal marriage in February.