By Andrew Millar
If you had told me when I started my career that during my time as British Consul-General in Houston you would find me marching with a half dozen Corgis alongside a red double-decker bus outfitted in flashing lights and Union Jack bunting, I would have thought you’d gone mad. But, as it happens, on June 27, I will be doing exactly that: walking in Houston’s Pride parade along with nearly 50 of my staff and their families and friends. We are extremely proud to participate and represent the British Government and its LGBT human rights policies.
For us, there is a strong message behind the pageantry of Pride. LGBT rights are human rights, and the U.K. government is a strong supporter of equality. Our position is straightforward: we believe in equality for all people. That includes marriage equality. This was exemplified in 2013, when England and Wales passed legislation enabling gay and lesbian couples to marry in both civil and religious ceremonies. In 2014, this right was extended to same-sex couples in my native country of Scotland. Prior to this legalization of same-sex marriage, the U.K. has had civil partnerships for over a decade.
Internationally, the U.K. is a vocal advocate of LGBT equality. Beyond our domestic policies, we work to advance equality globally. Last year, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague campaigned against Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill. And here in the United States, our closest ally, we will participate in Pride parades in eight cities this summer.
When it comes to LGBT-friendly destinations to travel, study, do business, and invest, the U.K. is at the top of the list. In fact, a recent study by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans & Intersex Association found that the U.K. is the best place in Europe for equal, legal LGBT rights. Our policies ensure this remains the case. Over the past half century, we have implemented strong laws and statutes to ensure that serious penalties are levied for any form of discrimination.
I really can’t overstate how excited and proud I am to represent the U.K. and our commitment to LGBT equality and basic human rights at the 2015 Pride parade this year. That said, I fully expect to be upstaged by the Corgis.