Former Northampton North Labour MP and gender rights campaigner, Maureen Colquhoun, made history as Britain’s first openly lesbian politician.

Maureen Colquhoun served in Parliament as an MP from 1974 to 1979. During this time she became known as a supporter of gender-based protections such as abortion, gender balance, and rights for sex workers.

During Colquhoun’s time as a politician, she was a minority in the political field as there were fewer than 30 female MPs in Parliament.

Shortly after it was revealed the MP was in a relationship with a woman, Colquhoun had difficulty fighting off to deselect her in 1979.

At the time, Colquhoun addressed the situation in a Gay News interview saying her sexuality and identity has “nothing whatever to do with my ability to do my job as an MP”.

During her political career, Colquhoun introduced a range of Bills which advocated for a greater attention to be paid to social issues such as gender equality and women’s rights.

The Balance of Sexes Bill was introduced by Colquhoun in May 1975. Speaking in the House of Commons, the Labour MP cited the intention of her progressive Bill, stating: “Unless a Bill was introduced to make it compulsory for men and women to be on public bodies and boards in equal numbers they would never get very far”.

Colquhoun continued to outline her position: “My Bill is designed positively to discriminate for women, to “Ensure that appointments to the boards of public bodies and corporations, to certain committees, panels and tribunals, and to juries and the House of Lords, shall consist of women and men in equal numbers.”

Since the news of Colquhoun passing emerged, tributes for the former MP have been shared.

Posting on Twitter, Angela Eagle, Labour MP for Wallasey, posted: “This is very sad news Maureen Colquhoun was a feminist pioneer and paved the way for all those of us who came after her RIP”.

Labour leader, Sir Keir Starmer also shared a post calling Colquhoun a “champion of women’s rights”.

The full tweet read: “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 Deputy Leader Angela Rayner publicly commented on Colquhoun’s passing, saying: “Labour women have lost a great sister and we have lost a great champion of justice and equality for all. In her memory, that work goes on.”.

SNP MP for Edinburgh South West Joanna Cherry QC also shared a thoughtful post on Twitter after learning of Colquhoun’s death.

The MP wrote: “So sad to hear this. RIP Maureen Colquhoun the first out lesbian MP who has died today at 92. She suffered appalling #Lesbophobia. Let’s not let the clock be put back any further than has happened already”.