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Minister vows to defend LGBT rights

The Prime Minister has appointed a Minister for Equalities who voted against legislation introducing same-sex marriage for a second time.

Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage has been given a dual role as minister at the Ministry of Justice as well as a Minister for Equalities at the Department for Education.

First elected in 2010, Ms Dinenage is the daughter of TV presenter Fred Dinenage and is married to Milton Keynes North MP Mark Lancaster, who has been made minister for defence personnel, welfare and veterans at the Ministry of Defence. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act passed into law in July 2013.

In a statement, issued through the Department for Education, Ms Dinenage said: "I know that some people may be concerned about my voting record on same sex marriage however, I want to be clear - I am fully committed to advancing the cause of LGB&T equality and support the law on same sex marriage.

"I'm proud that the UK has just been named the most progressive country in Europe for LGB&T rights for the fifth year running, but as the new Minister for Equalities I know there's no room for complacency.

"That is why I'm particularly looking forward to taking forward this Government's work on tackling homophobic bullying in schools."

Ruth Hunt, chief executive of Stonewall said the organisation was "disappointed" there were currently no openly LGB or T people attending cabinet.

She said in a statement: "There is still a lot to do to secure full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, and we will work closely with Caroline Dinenage to ensure this is high on the agenda for this Government.

"Given the issues LGBT people still face, and despite the highest number of openly lesbian, gay and bisexual MPs being elected last Thursday, we are disappointed that there are currently no openly LGB or T people attending cabinet to share the experiences of LGBT people at the highest level of Government."

The current Education Secretary Nicky Morgan was handed responsibility for women's issues following the departure of Maria Miller in April 2014.

Controversially, her seat at the Cabinet table was not a full one as the replacement - male - then culture secretary Sajid Javid retained overall responsibility for equalities, the first time a women's minister had been answerable to a male colleague.

Some observers put that down to her decision to vote - on the basis of her Christianity - against same-sex marriage. Ms Morgan was later appointed Education Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities in July 2014.

In October of that year Ms Morgan voiced her support for same-sex marriage, having previously opposed its introduction in Parliament. She defended her change of stance, earlier stating "judge me on my record''.

Ms Morgan said that at the time she had been swayed by strong opposition among her Loughborough constituents as well as regarding it as an "issue of conscience''.

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