Former Stonewall chief executive Ruth Hunt has been given a peerage in Theresa May’s honours list.
There are currently only three lesbians in the House of Lords. Hunt makes that four, out of 300 members.
The former Stonewall boss told PinkNews: “It’s an honour to be appointed as a cross-bench peer to the House of Lords.
“I will continue to do everything in my power to achieve acceptance without exception for all LGBT+ people and advocate for equality for all communities both here and internationally.”
Hunt will take up her role in the Lords alongside her day job as co-director of Deeds and Words with Caroline Ellis, a business that works to help organisations build inclusive cultures.
Cressida Dick, the lesbian Met Police commissioner, was also given a damehood on May’s list.
Dick came out as lesbian in April 2017, making her the highest-ranked lesbian officer in British police history.
Ruth Hunt, trans ally.
Under Hunt’s leadership and following a six-month consultation in 2015, Stonewall went from being an LGB charity to a fully trans-inclusive LGBT+ charity.
Vowing to lobby for trans rights, part of Stonewall’s campaign were t-shirts featuring the slogan: “Trans women are women. Get over it.”
“We had a moral responsibility to fight for trans people,” Hunt told The Guardian in May 2019, when it had been announced she was leaving Stonewall.
Despite being accused of running “a militant trans agenda”, she was firm that supporting trans rights was the right thing to do.
“We had a moral responsibility. It’s disgusting we hadn’t done this work sooner. Our lack of trans inclusion was utterly baffling – why would we work with 800 employers and tell them everything about how to monitor sexual orientation and not tell them about trans?” Hunt said.
“Why would we train every immigration judge on LGB issues and not tell them about trans? It was preposterous. The aggression shown towards trans people is one micro-step away from aggression shown to butch dykes or camp men. It’s all part of the same hatred – people do not differentiate.”
Still, some people still dislike Hunt for her position on trans rights. Mumsnet users – who previously boycotted British supermarket Co-op because they were offended by an advert for strawberries featuring a trans woman – have called Hunt’s appointment to the Lords “controversial” and “disappointing”.
Jan Gooding, chair of Stonewall’s board of trustees, said in a statement: “We’re delighted Ruth Hunt has been granted a peerage. She’s an inspirational and dedicated leader who transformed Stonewall’s culture, including integrating trans communities into our work and forming a unique partnership with The Rainbow Project in Northern Ireland.
“I know that her collaborative and intelligent approach will add huge value in the House of Lords.
“Ruth’s 14 years at the charity has been marked by extraordinary progress in our mission to build acceptance for LGBT+ people, much of which she is responsible for.
“We are incredibly grateful for all the work Ruth has done to make the world better for lesbian, gay, bi and trans people. From all of us here at Stonewall: Congratulations Ruth!”