Openreach hosted a drinks reception and panel in honour of the milestone


Openreach celebrated 10 years of marriage equality for same sex couples, at the BT Tower, London, on Monday 17 July. Following a drinks reception, guests were seated to listen to a panel of speakers discuss their experience of campaigning for the change pre-2013.

Before the panel started the audience was played a video from former prime minister, David Cameron, who was leading the country at the time that the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act went through parliament.

He said, “The opposition was quite ferocious 10 years ago; people can’t forget that. I want to thank the civil servants who worked so hard, not least answering the thousands of responses to the consultation. I want to thank the people in my private office who helped to bring this about, particularly Michael Salter-Church, who was absolutely stalwart in explaining and pushing and going on this subject.”

Cameron also highlighted the pivotal role his wife played in his process of recognising the importance of passing this legislation, saying:

“It is an important change. It’s one that owes a lot to my wife, Samantha. She was one of the people that absolutely convinced me that if you say to people ‘yes, you love each other, but you can’t get married’, then somehow, in some way, you’re saying their love means less… and I’m proud that we’re not a country like that.”

The panel, hosted by Abby Chicken, was made up of Jayne Ozanne (Ozanne Foundation), Belton Flournoy (London School Of Economics), Polly Shute (Out And About LGBTQIA), Ben Cohen (Pink News) and Peter Tatchell (activist and human rights campaigner). The panel discussed the times leading up to the legislation being passed through parliament, and although they spoke about the importance of the legislation, considered the change within the LGBTQIA community that is yet to happen.

Tatchell explained that to use the term marriage equality can be misleading, as the legislation that allows same sex couples to marry is separate from the legislation that applies to a man and woman. He considered that true equality would be that all marriage is covered by the same law.

Ozanne is a British evangelical anglican who campaigns to safeguard LGBTQIA people from abuse and started a foundation to work with religious organisations around the world on prejudice and discrimination. Ozanne spoke about despite the law now allowing same sex marriage, the rules of the church do not align, which prevents same sex couples getting married. She said that she hopes to be the first woman married in the church, once she has found the right woman!

Cohen spoke fondly about how unified the UK’s political system felt in 2013, explaining that overall there was a sense of agreement that the law needed to change. This sentiment was echoed by Cameron, who thanked the Labour Party for not using marriage equality as a political tool in the lead up to a decision.

Following the panel discussion, audience members made their way up 37 floors to admire the view of London. Conversation continued among guests, focusing on their own same sex weddings and the queer experience. People shared their wedding photos, the best spots for queer clubbing in their respective towns and reflected on how far we have come and how much distance there still is to go. 

DIVA magazine celebrates 29 years in print in 2023. If you like what we do, then get behind LGBTQIA media and keep us going for another generation. Your support is invaluable.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.