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LGBT ‘pioneer’ Chris Smith reunites with Islington MPs Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry

PUBLISHED: 10:45 20 October 2017 | UPDATED: 10:49 20 October 2017

Former Islington South and Finsbury MP Chris Smith is presented with the Pink News lifetime achievement award by Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Ettinger PR

Former Islington South and Finsbury MP Chris Smith is presented with the Pink News lifetime achievement award by Emily Thornberry and Jeremy Corbyn. Picture: Ettinger PR

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Jeremy Corbyn reunited with his old Islington colleague Chris Smith on Wednesday. The Labour leader presented his friend with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to LGBT equality.

Chris Smith and Jeremy Corbyn entered Parliament together as Islington MPs in 1983. Picture: Ettinger PR Chris Smith and Jeremy Corbyn entered Parliament together as Islington MPs in 1983. Picture: Ettinger PR

Mr Corbyn, for Islington North, and Mr Smith, for Islington South and Finsbury, were elected at the same time in 1983. One year later, Lord Smith was the first MP to come out as gay. He also became the first gay Cabinet member in 1997.

Lord Smith, who was MP until 2005, when he was replaced by Emily Thornberry, said at the Pink News awards: “It’s 33 years since I came out – and how much has changed since then. We’ve made huge legislative and administrative progress over the intervening years.

“But we have to remind ourselves all the time how much still needs to be done: to stop bullying, to change homophobic attitudes, to insist on rights for trans and non-binary people. Our mission is certainly not over.”

Mr Corbyn said: “Nobody symbolises the solidarity, bravery, and courage of the LGBT community more than my old friend Chris Smith. Thanks to pioneers like Chris, Parliament has a record high of 45 LGBT members, the highest of any legislature in the world.”

His successor, Ms Thornberry, said: “Everyone knows about Chris’s national standing, and what a fantastic role model he has been, but an excellent politician’s work starts with serving their local community, and I learnt just how brilliant Chris had been in that regard when I took over from him in 2005.

“Before the election, Chris went out campaigning with me, and it quickly became apparent just how many people had been helped by Chris, because almost one in three ran out of their homes to say thank you. I knew then that if I could be half as good a constituency MP as Chris, then I’d be doing alright.”

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