As we approach the end of the LGBT+ pride season, Portsmouth is the last pride to take place on the south coast this Saturday.
Across the country, we've seen people from different backgrounds, nationalities, faiths and minority groups come together to celebrate the hard-won equality here in the UK.
This summer I opened London Pride alongside the Mayor of London and witnessed first hand the diverse make-up of the LGBT+ community, and importantly, their concerns and hopes.
While the UK has led the way in many areas around equality, there is still stigma and pressure for LGBT+ persons here at home. Whether that's the fear of rejection when coming out, the stigma associated with HIV diagnosis or the daily struggles that the trans community faces, there's still some way to go, and more work to be done.
In July last year, the government launched a national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) survey, which asked LGBT people about their experiences of living in the UK.
The national LGBT survey received over 108,000 responses, making it the largest national survey of LGBT people conducted in the world to date.
Responses covered a range of issues, including safety, health, education and the experience of being LGBT in the UK.
The findings serve as a crucial addition to the evidence base. Whilst there were many positives to take from the findings, they also show that there is more to do before we achieved equality for LGBT people in the UK.
Earlier this summer I launched a consultation for the Gender Recognition Act as I believe that at the core of campaigns for and against these issues, there are people.
People who face real day to day struggles. People who suffer unimaginable abuse and hate-crimes.
That is why it is crucial that we understand those issues as we consider how to improve the gender recognition process for those that use it – something which has been put into the 'job too hard' pile by Whitehall for too long.
I am determined to do everything I can do to help trans people to be able to better go about their day to days lives without fear or abuse.
As a city, we can be proud of our LGBT inclusivity. We've seen a record amount of LGBT members representing the city at both Portsmouth City Council and in Parliament too, across the political spectrum.
My own political party has had two openly gay chairman leading campaigns and social action projects as well as helping to run the city council from cabinet level. I pay homage to the LGBT+ members across the other parties in Portsmouth, who've also held office and have helped to progress the city further.
The rise of Portsmouth Pride as an annual event and celebration with the Portsmouth LGBT+ community is one that we can all be proud of, and one that I will be proud to support and march with this Saturday.
Portsmouth Pride matters because there is still work to be done to achieve equality for everyone.
Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP
Secretary of State for International Development and Minister for Women and Equalities
for full details of this year’s event click here.