As members of parliament go, Labour’s Lloyd Russel-Moyle is a rather interesting case. Elected to represent Brighton’s Kemptown constituency in 2017, the 37-year-old has made his name in a number of ways. 

In 2018, merely six months into his parliamentary tenure, Russel-Moyle made headlines by revealing his status as HIV positive – becoming the first sitting MP to do so. In a moving speech, he discussed the ‘spectre’ of HIV, that lingering fear that haunts so many queer people. 

Six years in government later, he’s keen to eradicate the fear from HIV. “I think one of the big things around that spectre is internalised stigma, where you become internally afraid of it”, he told me. 

“I have found that being open about my status has made things a lot easier rather than harder. 

“The more we get people to open up about it, and talk about it being, not something that’s desirable, but not something that’s a problem either, and that you can live well with, the better.”

Attaining his Master’s in International Law from Sussex in 2016, Russel-Moyle is keen to present himself as something of an ally to students in Brighton. 

As a member of the Renter’s Reform Bill Committee, he advocated for change which would allow students greater time to decide where they’ll live each year. 

“It’s problematic that students have to choose where they’re going to live in second year in February or January. If the market pushed it back so that most people were moving in in July or June, it would be better for all concerned, because you would know who you want to live with more, you would know what you’re doing.”

Most people in parliament want the same thing. They want the fighting to stop…

The ‘Renter’s Reform Bill’, currently on it’s way through the parliamentary process, would offer greater protection for tenants. At present, landlords need not offer an explanation for eviction. The proposed legislation would mean landlords are only able to evict due to reasonable circumstances. 

Once law, Lloyd believes it “will mean that all people will be able to have more security and therefore be able to go for enforcement. If your house is bad, you’ll be able to enforce it better, because you know that you won’t be evicted on a no-fault eviction.”

Alongside his advocacy for renters, Russel-Moyle has been adamant in calling for a ceasefire in the Middle East. Openly defying party leadership, he joined 56 other Labour MPs by voting in support of the SNP’s proposed amendment to the King’s speech, which urged ‘all parties to agree to an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.’ 

“We should be pushing for the furthest possible way of saying that the fighting must stop”, he argued. 

“If we don’t ask for it in the strongest possible terms, people get confused by the signals you’re sending. We sent confusing signals to some of the Israeli leadership, who are extremely right wing. 

“It would be better to do what the UN secretary general did, what Spain and Portugal did, what France has done, what lots of countries have done. To say, ‘we support you getting the hostages back, but you need to be moving towards a ceasefire’.

“We understand that just because there was that atrocity, that doesn’t give you the right to commit more atrocities.”

Image: UK Parliament
Image: UK Parliament

Still, the backbencher was keen to play down any major divides in his party, or parliament over the conflict. 

“Most people in parliament want the same thing. They want the fighting to stop, the hostages to be released, and a two-state solution, where Israel and Palestine are peaceful, secure states in their own right. 

“Some people got into a very esoteric debate about what the concept of a ceasefire was vs a humanitarian pause. They are fundamentally the same thing.”

Despite his best intentions, Russel-Moyle and his fellow rebels were soundly defeated in the ceasefire vote, whilst local issues, such as taxation, education and planning are left to county councils. 

Yet, in his time in Parliament, whether on the Renter’s Reform Bill Committee or elsewhere, Lloyd Russel-Moyle has distinguished himself as an enthusiastic representative of Brighton Kemptown. Political affiliations aside, one can’t deny his decent intentions. 

His position, as an HIV positive man at the seat of parliamentary power mustn’t be overlooked either. Disclosing his HIV status was neither a politically safe, nor accepted thing to do. In doing so, Russel-Moyle has distinguished himself – an example for all those still suffering under the spectre of HIV, that life goes on, one’s career goes on, and no ambition is out of reach.

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