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Caroline Nokes

MP who voted against same-sex marriage elected as new equalities chief

Caroline Nokes voted against same sex marriage in 2013

Tory MP Caroline Nokes, who voted against same sex marriage, has been elected to oversee the scrutiny in parliament of LGBTQ+ and equalities issues.

The MP for Romsey and Southampton North replaces LGBTQ+ ally Maria Miller who stepped aside after the December election. Nokes was the only MP to put her name forward for the position which was only open to Conservatives due to the way parliamentary committees are split. 

On taking up the role, Nokes tweeted: “Thrilled to have been elected unopposed as Chair of @Commonswomequ a new challenge for this new Parliament.”

In her supporting statement she added: “It would be a real privilege to follow Maria Miller as Chair of the Committee, who oversaw a wide range of important inquiries in the 5 years since the Committee was formed.”

Nokes, who voted against same sex marriage in February 2013, has also been absent from other votes on the same issue – she was absent from the third reading of the Marriage (Same Sex Couple) Act in May 2013 and from a vote on making same sex marriage available to armed forces personnel outside the United Kingdom. In 2019, she voted for same sex marriage in Northern Ireland.

The appointment has been met with criticism online as Twitter users drew attention to the fact that Nokes has voted against same sex marriage. Linda Riley, co-founder of the British LGBT Awards said: “Did anyone know it was April fools day today?? Is this a joke??? ⁦@carolinenokes: MP who voted down equal marriage is new equalities”.

Stonewall’s interim chief executive Paul Twocock welcomed the appointment on Twitter: “Congratulations @carolinenokes on being elected as Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee yesterday. Look forward to working together to shine a light on the barriers facing LGBT people, and how we can work together to address them. #ComeOutForLGBT”.

Dazed reached out to Mermaids, the UK Charity supporting gender diverse & transgender children and teenagers, but they did not provide a comment.