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lgbt / By Tomorrow Britain Could Have More LGBT MPs Than Anywhere In The World

By Tomorrow Britain Could Have More LGBT MPs Than Anywhere In The World

Britain is predicted to have an historic windfall of LGBT politicians, although it remains to be seen whether the predictions will bear fruit.

Posted on May 7, 2015, at 5:00 p.m. ET

New research has found that there are more LGBT candidates than ever before – and claims that more are expected to win.

Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat
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Simon Hughes, Liberal Democrat

Angela Eagle, Labour
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Angela Eagle, Labour

Nick Herbert, Conservative
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Nick Herbert, Conservative

The study revealed that there were 130 LGBT candidates from eight different parties.

Chris Bryant, Labour
Stuart C. Wilson / Getty Images

Chris Bryant, Labour

Margot James, Conservative
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Margot James, Conservative

David Laws
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David Laws

Of those, 29 were likely to win, which would represent just under 5% of the total number of MPs. This is an increase of three MPs from 2010.

Professor Andrew Reynolds of the University of North Carolina asked all the parties for lists of their out LGBT candidates and compiled the data alongside opinion polls for each constituency – although the polls may of course turn out to be wrong.

If his calculations are correct, the United Kingdom would not only have the highest number of out LGBT MPs in its history, but also the highest number – and proportion – of any parliament in the world.

It was only 30 years ago that there was only one openly gay MP, Labour's Chris Smith, who came out in 1984.

Ian Walton / Getty Images

Reynolds' research found both Labour and the Liberal Democrats were fielding 35 LGBT candidates. The Conservatives were putting up 28, the Greens had 28, UKIP had 5, Plaid Cymru had 2 and the SNP and the Alliance Party both had one.

The candidates were spread across every region in the UK, but with the most in the South West of England and the least in Northern Ireland.

Before parliament was dissolved in March, there were 13 Conservative, 9 Labour and 4 Liberal Democrat LGBT MPs. Professor Reynolds' figures suggest a shift to the left in the weighting of LGBT MPs following today's election, with the Tories losing two, the Lib Dems losing one and Labour, SNP and Plaid Cymru together gaining seven.

This is how the 130 candidates are spread among the parties and which were likely to win, according to Prof Reynolds.

And this is how they are made up by gender, gender identity and sexual orientation. 86% are gay men.

However, out of the 130 LGBT candidates, only two come from ethnic minorities, and neither of those are expected to win.

This is despite the fact that there are predicted to be more black, Asian and ethnic minority MPs than ever before.

"It's really upsetting," Bisi Alimi, a leading LGBT activist and political commentator, told BuzzFeed News. "The picture we see of the LGBT community is not representative – it's predominantly white. It's white-controlled and predominantly male."

This lack of representation of LGBT people from a BAME background in public life has dire consequences, said Alimi.

"There are no role models to look up to and say, 'This person from nowhere has been selected to be an MP. This boy from South London or this black lesbian from Birmingham. And if this person can do it then I can do it.'"

The reasons for this are complex, he added. "We have to overcome a lot of obstacles to even get there and there are more obstacles facing us to come out. So many LGBT black and minority ethnic people are doing amazing work in this country, but never get the recognition they deserve, mainly because of the colour of their skin.

"This is the reality: we are boxed into a corner where we will never be able to raise our head above the parapet. And if we don't, we don't get seen and if we don't get seen we don't get selected and then we don't have any chance at all in politics."

Alimi is planning to run for election in 2020, as a Labour candidate.

"I hope to stand, even if I don't get selected, I will try," he said. "We LGBT people within the BAME community need to be more visible."

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Earlier this week, Alimi, who is a gay migrant from Nigeria, and who is also HIV-positive, went to South Thanet, the constituency Nigel Farage is standing in, to offer free hugs to voters, in protest at UKIP's stance on immigration and HIV-positive immigrants. He said that he has been inspired by the three parliamentary candidates who revealed to BuzzFeed News that they are HIV positive.

"Look at the amazing work of those candidates who are HIV positive," he said. "That has broken a lot of barriers in this country. I really hope that some of them get elected because then it will show that even when you're open about it people will still vote for you."

He added: "If the BAME community comes out to vote they could change the government in this country – that's how powerful this group could be. We need to get our voices heard."

Spreading the love in #SouthThanet today was @bisialimi

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