The Liberal Democrats are delighted to announce, alongside the LGIU, that John Leech has been shortlisted for their Lifetime Achievement in public service for his dedication to the LGBT+ community.
John Leech, who has dedicated nearly three decades of his life to public service, has been shortlisted for the Lifetime Achievement award from more than 200 nominations.
Whilst working at McDonald’s as a student, John Leech began getting involved in local campaigns and social good projects. In 1998, he was elected to Manchester City Council and has continuously served its people since, securing historic victories for equal rights.
He spent 10 years as Member of Parliament for Manchester Withington from 2005–2015 and immediately returned to Manchester City Council in 2016.
His work has reached every corner of the UK, and beyond and is certainly no stranger to the LGBT+ community.
He is probably best known as the “architect” of Alan Turing’s Pardon and ‘Turing’s Law’ which used Turing’s pardon as a precedent to grant a posthumous pardon to more than 75,000 people historically criminally convicted of ‘Gross Indecency’ for being gay.
But his expansive record of standing up for LGBT+ people goes much further, and has solidified him a powerful leader in the community and a strong voice for those so often suppressed.
He led the campaign and designed the bill to criminalise homophobic chanting at football matches, played a key role in the construction of historic bill to introduce same-sex marriage, launched a localised campaign to tackle the rise of homophobic and transphobic bullying in high schools and unequivocally backed the end of the gay blood ban.
During the COVID-19 crisis, he continued his fight for a more just society, most recently pressuring the Big Five Tech Giants to step in and save Bletchley Park, where much of Turing’s work was carried out.
“John just can’t let inequality go unchallenged”
Ed Davey MP, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, said, “For nearly three decades, John Leech has been an incredible, relentless and fierce public servant, and I am so proud that his tireless work has been recognised.
“John has never been one to shout about his achievements, and I’m sure there’s a part of him that will hate this attention, but he has been a transformational voice for the LGBT+ community in both Parliament and Council, and that deserves recognition.
“John just can’t let inequality go unchallenged and his commitment to pushing the envelope as far as possible is inspirational. Thanks to him, more than 75,000 men and women including WWII hero Alan Turing who, as recently as 2013, still held criminal convictions for being gay had their records wiped clean and received a formal apology.
“Congratulations to you, John, on celebrating an unparalleled lifetime in public service. Your extraordinary dedication to fighting for a fairer society is exactly what the Liberal Democrats stand for, and I know that your fierce passion isn’t going anywhere any time soon.”
Councillor Richard Kilpatrick, John Leech’s colleague on Manchester Council, said, “I’m not in the least bit surprised to see John recognised so highly. I have worked with him for six years now, and he’s never stopped fighting to make this country fairer––not once.
“He is always the first one in the office and the last out. Every second of his day is spent fighting for other people, often to his own detriment.
“People’s lives are unequivocally better because of the work he does and the never-ending passion he brings, and I’m so proud to serve alongside him.
Jonathan Carr-West, Chief Executive of the Local Government Information Unit (LGIU) said, “The Covid-19 pandemic has presented this country with a set of challenges that few could have predicted. However, councillors up and down the country have risen to these challenges and stepped up to plate for their communities.
“From delivering food parcels to vulnerable residents and sourcing PPE for frontline workers to finding temporary accommodation for the homeless, local government has kept the country safe and moving.
“It is for this reason that we are particularly proud to unveil the shortlist for this year’s Cllr Awards. Their achievements showcase the best of local government at a time when the country faces one of the greatest hardships of our lifetime.
“We would like to congratulate all of those councillors shortlisted and look forward to revealing the winners on the 26th of November.”