Lord Michael Cashman

Lord Michael Cashman was made a patron of Humanists UK for their humanist contributions to ethical questions in public life.

Peer and activist

Photo of Lord Michael Cashman

Lord Michael Cashman grew up as an actor, for which he is best known for his role as Colin Russell in EastEnders, a character who famously had the first gay kiss in a British soap in 1987. He served as a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands from 1999 to 2014, a role which included being the Labour spokesperson on human rights in the European Parliament as well as a member of the Civil Liberties Committee. He is now a member of the House of Lords.

A longtime human rights campaigner, Michael is one of the original co-founders of the LGBT rights charity Stonewall. His work for LGBT equality has earned him a Pink News Lifetime Achievement Award and a Lifetime Achievement Award from the European Diversity Awards.

Cashman is also a longtime supporter of LGBT Humanists and its work to combat religious prejudice against LGBT people, and served as the organisation’s Vice President in the 2000s during a period of considerable campaigning activity and success for the group. In 2009, for the 30th anniversary of LGBT Humanists (then known as GALHA) he congratulated activists on their work on the 2001 London Partnership Register and the 2005 Civil Partnership Act, and in bringing the International Day Against Homophobia to the UK. During this time Michael used his position as an MEP to draw attention to the crackdowns on LGBT rights and expression in Europe, highlighting case studies from Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania. 

A member of the All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group since joining the House of Lords, he has spoken up repeatedly on issues like humanist marriage, assisted dying and reforming the Rwanda Bill. Humanists UK appointed him a patron in 2024 in recognition of this history of activism. 

He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2013 for his public and political service.