Prime Minister David Cameron has been presented with De Montfort University Leicester (DMU)’s highest honour in recognition of his fight for equal marriage.
The Prime Minister has been made a Companion of the University for his efforts to introduce the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act which came into effect in March 2014. The law allows same sex couples to marry and for civil partners to convert their partnership into a marriage – allowing gay couples to enjoy the same rights as heterosexual friends and family.
The Prime Minister, who famously said “when people’s love is divided by law that law needs to change” faced intense opposition in his determination to champion this cause.
But he stayed true to his belief that marriage was a right which should be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of sexuality.
His determination saw the bill become law enabling gay couples in England and Wales to marry.
It is thought to be the first time a sitting Prime Minister has been given a university honour through a ceremony at Downing Street itself.
DMU’s Vice-Chancellor Professor Dominic Shellard and Mr Mike Kapur, DMU Pro Chancellor, presented the Prime Minister with the accolade at a special ceremony at Number 10 Downing Street this morning at 11am (Thursday 6 August).
The Prime Minister said: “I am honoured to have been recognised by De Montfort University in this way.
“I have long believed in marriage as the bedrock of society and I am proud that in Britain whether you are straight or gay the State will recognise your relationship as equal. Together we should be proud to live in a country judged to be the best place in Europe if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.
“We are a nation that is growing stronger economically because of our long term economic plan. But I hope we can also be a country that is growing stronger socially because we value love and commitment equally.
“I am humbled to see this important moment for our country recognised in this way, and I dedicate this honour to all those who helped to make it happen.”
Professor Shellard said DMU wished to pay tribute to the Prime Minister’s significant contribution to equality.
He said: “DMU’s commitment to equality and diversity is embedded across all aspects of university life and is part of the very fabric of our university community. As such, we wanted to acknowledge the Prime Minister’s courageous role in making this historic law, in turn, part of the fabric of Britain.
“This award goes beyond politics. It is about honouring a man who has fought for the introduction of an Act which has improved the lives of millions of parents, husbands, wives and children in the name of equality.”
The nomination for the conferment of the award was made by the university’s outgoing Chancellor, The Lord Alli, who is a Labour peer and active champion of equal rights.
A Companionship is awarded to people who have done outstanding work to benefit the educational, cultural or economic life of the nation.
Other remarkable people to have been presented with the DMU award include Nelson Mandela, who was awarded the Companionship of DMU in 1996 at a ceremony held at Buckingham Palace.
Sedick Isaacs, Lizo Sitoto, Mark Shinners and Marcus Solomon – who campaigned for the right to play football matches while being kept in appalling prison conditions under the apartheid regime of South Africa – were given the award in 2011.
The United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mr Matthew Barzun, will also be honoured by the university, for his commitment to equality and diversity, at a ceremony later this year. He will receive an honorary degree in recognition of his significant contribution to equality which he champions through a special outreach programme, working primarily with young people.
Posted on Thursday 6th August 2015