UK’s first openly lesbian MP Maureen Colquhoun dies

Harriet Line, PA Deputy Political Editor
·4-min read

Tributes have been paid to Maureen Colquhoun, the UK’s first openly lesbian MP, who has died at the age of 92.

The former Labour politician represented Northampton North until 1979 and was a prominent campaigner on gender balance and protection for prostitutes.

After it emerged that she was in a relationship with a woman, her constituency party tried to deselect her as a candidate for the next general election.

Ms Colquhoun’s appeal against the move was upheld, but she lost her seat to a Conservative candidate in 1979. She then went on to work as an assistant to several Labour MPs.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said: “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.”

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said Labour women had lost a “great sister”.

She tweeted: “On behalf of the whole Labour Party and our movement I send my deepest condolences to Maureen’s family, friends and all those who knew, admired and loved her. Labour women have lost a great sister and we have all lost a woman of huge integrity and courage.

“Throughout our Party and our movement’s history brave and principled women have been at the forefront of the fight for justice and equality for all, and we are reminded of that fact today by Maureen’s passing.

“As the first openly gay MP she suffered great prejudice and indignity simply for being who she was. The fortitude with which she withstood the abuse she received is testament to her strength of character.

“Our progress as a Party is thanks to the bravery and courage of Maureen and the women who followed in her footsteps. Today, we are proud that the Parliamentary Labour Party is more than 50% female and we celebrate the fact that there are many openly LBGT+ Labour MPs.

“Today we recognise that we stand on the shoulders of giants and we would not be where are today without women like Maureen. Her passing reminds us of the great sacrifices made by so many and our duty to recommit ourselves to the fight for true justice and equality for all.

“That struggle, of which Maureen was an indelible and inspiring leader, is far from over, it is far from won and our determination is undimmed. Rest in peace.”

LGBT+ Labour said: “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.”

On the official Twitter account for the House of Commons, a tribute read: “Our thoughts are with friends and family of Maureen Colquhoun, who was the MP for Northampton North from 1974-1979 and the first openly lesbian MP, who has died today.”

Labour former minister Dame Angela Eagle said: “This is very sad news. Maureen Colquhoun was a feminist pioneer and paved the way for all of us who came after her. RIP.”

Sally Keeble, who served as Labour MP for Northampton North from 1997 to 2010, wrote on Twitter: “So sorry to hear of the passing of Maureen Colquhoun.

“A short time in Parliament. An indelible mark on public life.

“Labour women have lost a great sister: the world has a woman of dignity, grace and enormous courage.”