Jeremy Miles will be the UK’s most senior openly gay politician if elected: ‘Politics must be representative’

Jeremy Miles, who will become the UK’s most senior openly gay politician if elected leader of the Welsh Labour Party, has opened up about the importance of representation in his role. 

Miles is rallying to lead the Welsh Labour Party and will be appointed First Minister if he gets elected. The future First Minister will be taking over from LGBTQ+ ally Mark Drakeford, who stepped down in December.

Miles recalled what it was like growing up in a Conservative society in the 1980s as an LGBTQ+ young person. “I felt very much on the outside, very much that I couldn’t see my place in the world. No part of my life told me it was okay and normal to feel the way I did,” he told the Mirror

“It was a time when we had a Tory government that was finding new ways of being homophobic and oppressing people from LGBT communities,” Miles explained. “As a young person at the time trying to find your place in the world, that’s a hostile environment.”

In 1988, the controversial and homophobic legislation known as Section 28 was introduced under Margaret Thatcher’s rule. The clause brought forward by Thatcher’s government banned local authorities and schools from promoting homosexuality. 

The legislation was ultimately repealed in 2003. But the Conservative government appears to be repeating history with the introduction of a combative draft guidance on supporting trans and non-binary pupils.

The guidance suggests that teachers do not have to use chosen pronouns, allow access to single-sex spaces in their correct gender, and even be forced to ‘out’ those children

For Miles, the possibility of becoming the first openly gay person to hold such a senior position in the UK “would feel like a very significant moment”. 

“I think it’s also important that politics – Welsh politics, but UK politics and beyond – are representative and more representative than they currently are, because young people need to look at their public leaders and have a sense that they could be doing those roles in life.”

Welsh Labour members will be choosing who they want to lead the party later this week, with politician Vaughan Gething also rallying for the role. The winner will be announced on 16 March.

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