LONDON: LGBT+ candidates have surfed a rainbow wave to victory in the US elections with a series of historic wins, including Sarah McBride becoming the first openly transgender person to win a State Senate seat.

At least 35 of a record 574 LGBT+ candidates on the ballot were estimated to have won as of early on Wednesday, including Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones, respectively the first out gay Afro-Latino and Black men elected to Congress.

“Tonight’s wins for LGBTQ people of colour and transgender Americans across the country are historic and long overdue,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, president of the LGBT+ rights organisation GLAAD, in a statement.

“Their victories represent a leap forward for LGBTQ acceptance and a demand for more of the progress and equality that their very presence demonstrates.” McBride, who became the first trans person to address a major party convention when she spoke at the Democrat National Convention in 2016, is the country’s highest ranking openly trans official after winning the Delaware State Senate race for the party.

She tweeted that she hoped her victory “shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too”.

Veteran human rights campaigner, Peter Tatchell, who last year travelled with McBride to Australia and New Zealand, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that her election marked “an outstanding victory for trans people”.

Other landmark victories included Mauree Turner, who identifies as non-binary, or as neither male or female, and became Oklahoma’s first Muslim state representative, according to the LGBTQ Victory Fund, which backs LGBT+ candidates.

Michele Rayner became the first Black openly LGBT+ woman to be elected to Florida’s state legislature, while Shevrin Jones became the state’s first Black LGBT+ state senator. Georgia got its first openly LGBT+ state legislator, Kim Jackson.

“Having visible LGBTQ people in positions of political power is crucial to ensuring that LGBTQ people across America are championed,” said Eloise Stonborough, associate director of policy and research at Stonewall, Europe’s largest LGBT+ organisation.

A National Election Pool exit poll conducted by Edison Research indicated that LGBT+ voters represent 7pc of the 2020 electorate, higher than the estimated 4.5pc of the adult population. LGBT+ voters made up 6pc of the electorate in the 2018 midterm elections, and 5pc in the 2016 presidential elections.

As the 2020 presidential election result teetered on a knife edge, with millions of votes still uncounted, LGBT+ rights groups said the early wins showed the growing political importance of the community.

“Over the last three elections, the share of LGBTQ voters has continued to increase, solidifying our community as a key rising constituency that politicians must court,” Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Alphonso David said in a statement.

“Our issues matter, our votes matter and politicians around the country have taken notice.” Alan Wardle, director of the Global Equality Caucus, a network of LGBT-supporting parliamentarians around the world, said the elected representatives sent out “a strong signal that LGBT+ people belong in public life”.

Published in Dawn, November 5th, 2020



The establishment pivot
18 Jan, 2022

The establishment pivot

It is a sad reality that the power matrix continues to revolve around the establishment.
18 Jan, 2022

Remittances growth

THE hefty growth in remittances from Pakistanis living abroad continues to defy forecasts to the contrary. New State...
18 Jan, 2022

China-Iran deal

THE China-Iran strategic deal that has recently taken effect is more than just a long-term bilateral agreement...
Security policy unveiled
Updated 17 Jan, 2022

Security policy unveiled

PAKISTAN’S freshly unveiled National Security Policy has broadened the traditional concept and included economic...
Bold decisions
Updated 17 Jan, 2022

Bold decisions

IT is a double blow within a matter of days. The Islamabad High Court’s order last week to demolish a navy golf...
17 Jan, 2022

Rohingya camp blaze

A HUGE blaze in a refugee camp housing members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh last week has left up to ...