Ben Summerskill will be stepping down as Chief Executive of UK gay, bisexual and lesbian charity Stonewall, it was announced today (23 January).
After 11 years at the helm, he has seen gay rights change in this country from the repeal of Section 28 to same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
He will be leaving to enjoy some time off and to take a breather from his tireless work over the past decade.
Summerskill said: ‘I’ve had a wonderful 11 years at Stonewall. As a charity, it comprises a constellation of staff and volunteers who, working together, have achieved remarkable things.
‘ The fact that Stonewall’s Workplace Programme now engages the employers of ten million people and one in three local authorities in Britain now works with us to tackle homophobic bullying in schools is testament to some of the fantastic teamwork I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with.’
Stonewall Chair Jacqueline Davies said: ‘In the last decade, under Ben’s direction, Stonewall has become a hugely influential campaigning body that has played a key role in achieving legal equality for lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Britain – from the repeal of Section 28 to the recent same-sex marriage bill.
‘Britain is now a beacon of equality around the world and we are incredibly proud of Stonewall’s contribution to this. Ben’s own commitment has been extraordinary. He has worked tirelessly to achieve equality at home, at school and at work – and we are enormously grateful to him.
‘We remain all too aware that Stonewall’s work is by no means complete. The whole organisation remains more determined than ever to fight for full equality for gay, lesbian and bisexual people in all areas of life – both in the UK and internationally.’
Deputy Chief Executive Ruth Hunt will be appointed as Acting Chief Executive while the Board recruits into the role.
She said: ‘The Stonewall team is working hard to achieve equality for gay people in education, the media and in the workplace.’
‘As a leadership team, our priority will be to maintain the momentum Ben has built up over the last 11 years so that we continue to see significant progress in these areas. I’ve worked side-by-side with Ben over the last eight years, and will be delighted and honoured to step into the role of Acting Chief Executive.’
Peter Tatchell, veteran LGBT and human rights campaigner, said: ‘I wish Ben well in his future endeavours and look forward to working with his successor.
‘Despite our sometimes different policies and methods, Stonewall does great work.’