THIS weekend, Durham will be a spectacle of colour. The city will come together to celebrate our LGBT+ community and the inclusivity of our county. On Sunday, I will be proud to march in unison through our historic winding streets, in a public display of support and celebration of the freedom to love without discrimination.

As the parade weaves through Durham, the parallels with the historic procession of miners’ banners at the Big Meeting will be obvious. Both occasions are a demonstration of Durham’s commitment to openness and social justice.

Ten years ago, at the founding of Durham Pride, few thought the event would grow year on year. Yet through the tireless work, infectious enthusiasm, and vision of founder Mel Metcalf – he and his hardworking fellow organisers have created an annual festival of acceptance, visibility, and education. This year will culminate with Durham County Cricket club hosting a Pride T20 fixture at the Riverside, with players wearing rainbow armbands to bring a showpiece closure to the 10th anniversary weekend of celebrations.

Pride is a moment of celebration but for some also protest. Around the world, too many remain unable to express their sexuality freely, and despite the many advances in the UK, too often intolerance is manufactured by those seeking to foster division.

As a politician it has been impossible to ignore the alarming rhetoric of conservative voices in recent weeks, those who suggest “the normative family” of “mother and father” are “the only possible basis for a safe and successful society.”

Indeed, when I hear Lee Anderson, deputy leader of the Conservative Party, say his party must have culture wars at “the heart of their electoral offer” at the next election, a shiver runs down my spine. As he offers up the rights and freedoms of the LGBT+ community on the chopping block, his words should sound as a rallying call to all of us who stand against divisive hatred.

I am proud to be a Labour MP – and my party’s record supporting the LGBT+ community is one of the many reasons why. From the repeal of Section 28 to the creation of civil partnerships, the Gender Recognition Act or introducing the right for same sex couples to adopt, history shows we have stood with the LGBT+ community. But we must continue to defend and advance these rights.

We are, at our core, the party of equality, that’s why Labour will always treat all LGBT+ people with fairness and respect nor waver from upholding people’s dignity. We must build on the positive legacy of the last Labour Government by breaking new ground for LGBT+ rights. This includes introducing a full, trans-inclusive ban on conversion practices.

We must grasp the nettle and tackle the shocking rise in LGBT+ hate crime by strengthening and equalising the law so that every category of hate crime, including LGBT+ hate crime, is treated as an aggravated offence.

These changes can only be secured in Westminster, but my motivation is inspired by the strength and solidarity shown at Durham Pride.

So, as we celebrate, my message to the LGBT+ community is clear: as long as there are those hostile to you, as long as there are politicians who will fan the flames of intolerance against your hard-earned rights, I will stand with you, Durham will stand with you.