All hon. Members have had many letters from constituents about the Bill. One I received came from a couple who first met in 1978 and have been in a loving and committed relationship ever since. They are accepted, welcomed and supported as a couple by their friends and family, and they have waited 35 years for the House finally to catch up with what they and their friends already knew: that their same-sex relationship is every bit as valid, important and equal as their straight friends’ relationships.
Over the period of that couple’s relationship, there have been huge changes in how society at large views them and other same-sex couples. I marched in protest 25 years ago when the House passed section 28—legislation that offensively characterised same-sex relationships as “pretend”. The fact that we have a quite different Bill before us today is testament to the power of politics to change minds and build a better society.
I condemned the Conservative Prime Minister who promoted section 28 all those years ago, but today I pay tribute to the Conservative Prime Minister who has provided leadership on this issue. The Bill is also a tribute to the legacy of campaigners such as Michael Cashman and Chris Smith, to numerous socially progressive campaigners in the community, to LGBT people who have suffered hatred and discrimination in their lives because of who they were born, and to the same-sex couples and individuals whose determination to secure equality was driven by the knowledge that the love they experienced in their relationships was no less than anyone else’s love.