LGBT+ Liberal Democrats

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LGBT+ Liberal Democrats is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and gender & sexuality minorities equality group of the Liberal Democrats. DELGA (Democrats for Lesbian & Gay Action) was the original name when the organisation was formed. From 1996 to 2011 its name was Liberal Democrats for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Action.

The organisation was founded shortly after the formation of the Liberal Democrats and is a Specified Associated Organisation, which gives it special status within that Party.


The organisation was rapidly given Specified Associated Organisation (SAO) status in the party, meaning it is treated like a constituency Local Party with powers to submit policy to party conference and is formally consulted on policy-making in relevant areas.[citation needed]

The Party leadership has been consistently in favour of LGBT equality issues. Current Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has stated that, "although civil partnerships have been a step forward, until same sex marriage is permitted it is impossible to claim gay and straight couples are treated equally." He went on to say that, "I am determined that the Liberal Democrats will remain outspoken and steadfast in our defence of gay rights, from backing same sex marriage to stopping the deportation of gay asylum seekers to countries were homosexuality is punishable by death. There has been much progress in recent years, and much to celebrate. But as long as homophobia still rears its ugly head in workplaces, in classrooms, and even in the home - politicians must continue to speak out in favour of the values of gay rights."[1]

LGBT+ Liberal Democrats Chair Dates
Ed Fordham 2014 - current[2]
Adrian Trett[3] Jul 2010 - 2013
Benji Starr Jan - Jun 2010
Jen Yockney 2007–2009
Kelvin Meyrick 2006
Richard Porter 2005
Alison Wheeler 2004
Denys Robinson 2003
Hannah Kaitlin-Boyer 2001–2002
Jonathan Simpson 1998–2000
Mark Baker 1998
Brian Stone 1989


The organisation rapidly achieved many of its aims and the main party itself increasingly incorporated reference to, and recognition of, LGBT issues in its policy statements.

In 2001, 2005 and 2010 the party issued a separate LGBT manifesto, all the elements of which were also in the full party manifesto.

From DELGA to LGBT+[edit]

When the Liberal Democrats party was formed, it was initially called the Social and Liberal Democrats, sometimes referred to by the shortened version 'Democrats'.

As such when a lesbian & gay organisation for the party was formed, as successor to the Liberal Lesbian & Gay Action and Social Democrats for Lesbian & Gay Action groups, it adopted an abbreviated form of its name "DEmocrats for Lesbian & Gay Action" as DELGA.

In the mid 1990s the remit and full name of the organisation was changed to include bisexual and transgender, becoming Liberal Democrats for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Action. However, the same shortened form of the name was retained as the constitutional 'alternative name' to an unpronounceable acronym.

In September 2011 following a vote by the membership, both names were dropped in favour of "LGBT+ Liberal Democrats".[4]


During the 1994 campaign to change the age of consent for sex between men, the options under consideration were keeping the age of consent at 21, lowering it to 18, or lowering it to 16 (equal to the age of consent for sex between men and women). Delga campaigned under the slogan "16 or bust", emphasising that the 18 option was still not equality, and the age of consent was either equal or not equal. This contrasted with the approach of organisations such as Stonewall who were in favour of 18, seeing it as an achievable compromise.

In 2001, Delga ran a campaign for the General Election under the slogan "Freedom To Be", highlighting six key LGBT policy areas. The campaign had print adverts in the gay press and a special website, and tied in with a launch of the Liberal Democrat campaign to win the LGBT vote held in Soho, London with party leader Charles Kennedy MP as key speaker.

In 2005, Delga ran a smaller-scale campaign where the theme was "Not the only Liberal Democrat in the village".

In 2010, the Delga campaign for the LGBT vote in the General Election, "Always been there for you, and we always will" combined postcards, print and online advertising.

Notable LGBT Liberal Democrats[edit]

  • Jenny Bailey, who was the first transgender mayor in the United Kingdom.
  • Elizabeth Barker, Baroness Barker
  • Rodney Berman, leader of Cardiff council.
  • Sarah Brown, cited in the Independent on Sunday "Pink List" 2011 as currently the only transgender activist serving as an elected politician in the UK.
  • Stephen Gilbert, MP for St Austell and Newquay.
  • Simon Hughes MP, deputy Lib Dem party leader and candidate for Mayor of London in the 2004 election.
  • David Laws MP, Member of Parliament for Yeovil and former Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
  • Brian Paddick, Liberal Democrat candidate for the London mayoral elections of 2012 and 2008 - and until his retirement in May 2007, Deputy Assistant Commissioner in London's Metropolitan Police Service and the United Kingdom's most senior openly gay police officer.
  • Iain Smith, MSP for North East Fife 1999-2011.
  • Margaret Smith, MSP for Edinburgh West 1999-2011.
  • Anna Span, also known as Anna Arrowsmith, candidate for Gravesham in Kent in 2010.
  • Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lib Dem Leader speaks up for same-sex marriage". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats. 4 July 2009. 
  2. ^ "The votes are in - LGBT+ Lib Dems 2014". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats. 12 November 2013. 
  3. ^ "New Team for 2013". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats. 1 January 2013. 
  4. ^ "AGM outcome a plus". LGBT+ Liberal Democrats. 17 September 2011. 

External links[edit]