I welcome the hon. Lady’s welcome of the action plan. We want to do this well and implement the action plan well at local level as well as national level, and I hope all Members on both sides of the House will help us to do that. We also want to send a clear message that this is what we want for the UK, that we need to stamp out homophobia and bigotry wherever it exists, and that we want everyone in society to be able to love who they love and be able to hold hands in public. We need that culture shift; that still needs to happen. We have come a long way but there is still much more to do. So I thank the hon. Lady for her comments.
The hon. Lady mentioned other groups covered by the “+”. They are addressed in the action plan; there are actions that will support them too, but more specifically we will also be making funding available to those groups because they need to be included in the work that is going on at national and local level. So funding will be available to groups specifically looking at those individuals. We are also setting up a new national panel that will have representatives from those groups in it, so they will be able to feed into future policy. That will be very helpful.
The hon. Lady mentioned the Gender Recognition Act consultation. We are launching that today—this afternoon. It will be launched by the Prime Minister and a written statement will be tabled to coincide with that launch. This is an incredibly important piece of work and it must be conducted as a national conversation as well as a consultation, and it must be conducted in a framework of empathy, focusing on facts, not myths, and being very practical. I hope that my speech today and the Prime Minister’s words this afternoon set that tone.
The hon. Lady mentioned our international work. There are some commitments in the action plan specifically to promote LGBT+ rights in the rest of the world. The Prime Minister took a lead on this at her key address at the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit. She spoke at length about the need to promote LGBT rights across the Commonwealth. In addition to my work at the GEO, with my other hat on as International Development Secretary, we are doing a lot of work to support civil society and talk to national Governments about their policies and procedures.
The hon. Lady mentioned funding. I must apologise to her about the confusion as there is a smorgasbord of Departments that report on the GEO’s budget, but our budget has actually gone up: with the programme budget it is close to £15 million. At my appearance at the Select Committee I confirmed that I would clarify those numbers; our funding has gone up.
It is London Pride this weekend and I will be there. Over the summer there will be many other Pride events going on around the country. I feel that as the hon. Lady has thrown down the gauntlet on the dance-off, I will see her there.