Maureen Colquhoun, feminist pioneer and the UK’s first out lesbian MP, has died at 92. Colquhoun was a Labour politician, representing Northampton North from 1974 to 1979. During her time as an MP, she was a prominent campaigner for gender equality, sex worker’s rights and access to abortion. After it was revealed she was in a relationship with Barbara Todd, the publisher of Sappho magazine, multiple efforts were made by party members in her constituency to stop her from running in 1979.
Despite the discrimination she faced for being a lesbian she spoke out in support of LGBTQ+ rights, saying her sexuality had “nothing whatever to do with my ability to do my job as an MP” in a 1977 interview with Gay News. She said she had always been open about her relationship and that “gay relationships were as valid and as entitled to respect as any other relationship”.
Since the news of her death, tributes have poured in for Colquhoun, with LGBT+ Labour saying: “We are truly sorry to hear about the passing of the UK’s first openly lesbian MP, Maureen Colquhoun, who represented Northampton North in the 1970s. A champion of women’s rights, she faced a hostile press when she was outed against her will. Her strength will be remembered.”
Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer, also shared a message in memory of Colquhoun on Twitter: “Maureen Colquhoun, a champion of women’s rights, made history as the first openly lesbian MP. She faced awful discrimination, including from within our party, but her courage paved the way for all those who came after. My thoughts are with her loved ones.”