What you can do

Justine Greening joins Stonewall For Annual Equality Dinner

  • Stonewall’s CEO Ruth Hunt says we must fight to protect LGBT rights
  • Stonewall founders Sir Ian McKellen, Lord Cashman and Olivette Cole-Wilson reunite for annual fundraiser
  • Guests included Val McDermid, Maggi Hambling and Jeanette Winterson

The Secretary of State for Education Justine Greening delivered the key note speech at this year’s Stonewall Equality Dinner.

The annual fundraiser for Britain’s leading lesbian, gay, bi and trans charity was kindly supported by Aviva.

Ms Greening MP, began her speech by thanking Stonewall for its continued support of the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community.

Guests gathered gave a standing ovation when the MP said: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, if you want to go far, go together.’

She went on to thank Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt for the charity’s work on helping to secure mandatory sex and relationship education. 

She said: ‘I came into this role knowing things needed to change, that we needed to improve the lives of children and find a solution to take a step forward. We did it with help from Ruth and Stonewall. Not a single MP voted against making RSE (Relationship and sex education) mandatory. This tells us that if you want to go far, you must go together. I want to say thank you, because you are the real changemakers who are paving the way to a better future.’

Stonewall founders Sir Ian McKellen, Lord Cashman and Olivette Cole-Wilson were among the guests at the charity’s annual fundraiser.

Guests at the Equality Dinner, held at the Hilton at Park Lane, also heard from speakers including Group Brand Director at Aviva and Stonewall Trustee Jan Gooding and Chief Executive of Stonewall Ruth Hunt.

Stonewall volunteer Philip Adlem who regularly visits school as a Stonewall Role Model spoke of his experiences of growing up in a time when homosexuality was still a crime. This year marks the 50th anniversary of partial decriminalisation.

All speakers emphasised that although we have made progress, there is still a lot to do before LGBT people are accepted without exception and that complacency is not an option. 

Jan Gooding took the opportunity to voice her unequivocal support for trans people, trans women in particular. ‘Last month I went to my old school in Kent to address all the girls at their assembly. I think it is the first time the words lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans have ever been uttered on the main stage. You could have heard a pin drop.

‘A young student came to find me afterwards, and whispered to me: ‘Do you know if the school have a trans policy because I am too scared to ask?’

‘I don’t feel qualified to speak about the journey of trans people, because it is not my reality. But as a woman I do feel there is one remark I would like to make.

‘Trans women are women. Get over it!’

Ruth Hunt emphasised that although we had made progress we needed to be vigilant and continue to work together in the fight to protect LGBT equality.

She said: ‘The tide is turning and swimming against the tide can be tiring and demoralising. It is easy to be dismissive and it requires courage to keep going.

‘It is not enough to passively watch these things happening and do nothing. It requires courage to fight against bigotry and fear. We have a power and responsibility to look beyond ourselves and protect the rights we have fought so hard for. Ask yourself not what can your LGBT community do for you, but what can you do for it.’

Guests on the night included the event’s host Stella Duffy; auctioneer and night czar Amy Lamé; Stonewall founders Sir Ian McKellen, Olivette Cole and Lord Cashman; singer Sinitta; artist Maggi Hambling; authors Jeanette Winterson and Val McDermid; Antony Cotton, Sean Tully in Coronation Street and rugby star Keegan Hirst, who plays for Wakefield Trinity.

A live and silent auction, raffle and ticket sales all contributed towards this key fundraising event, which took place the Hilton on Park Lane.

Money raised will help Stonewall as they continue to go further and deeper into communities, raise LGBT visibility across media and sport and empower activists across the Britain and abroad.

Top auction prizes on the night included a selection of exclusive experiences, including VIP tickets for the upcoming Steps tour, a stay on 5th Avenue over New York City Pride Weekend, tickets to the sold-out show ‘Angels in America and a pair of Tom Daley’s swimming trunks.