Husband Paul Cottingham
Michael Maurice Cashman, Baron Cashman, CBE (born 17 December 1950) is a British Labour politician and former actor. He was a Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands constituency from 1999 until he stood down in 2014. He has since then been appointed to the House of Lords. On 23 September 2014, Cashman was appointed the Labour Party's special envoy on LGBT issues worldwide.
A former child actor, Cashman had a long career principally on television in supporting roles. His first television appearance was in the 14th episode "The Tin God" of the ITC series Gideon's Way filmed in 1964 and aired in 1965. He had been in the business for more than 20 years when he landed the role of Colin Russell in BBC TV's EastEnders – a character who was a participant in the first gay kiss in a British soap opera. In 1980, Cashman was a series regular in series 2 and 3 of ITV's The Sandbaggers as Sandbagger 2 (initially Sandbagger 3). Cashman also appeared in the Doctor Who serial Time-Flight in March 1982. It was announced on 25 August 2016 that Cashman would reprise his role as Colin Russell in EastEnders for two episodes in September.
He is the treasurer of Equity and led the campaign to obtain pension rights for members.
Cashman is a founder of Stonewall, an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society, a Patron of The Food Chain, a London-based HIV charity and a patron of LGBT Labour.
In the European Parliament he was Labour spokesman on human rights.
A member of the Civil Liberties Committee, Cashman has been a rapporteur on several key initiatives including an initiative on funerals of those who die in third countries – an issue he was motivated to act on after the death of his own father.
In the Petitions Committee, where he is first vice-chair, he has been working on the so-called Spanish Land Grab crisis.
He is a trenchant critic of discrimination against minorities within the European Union. He has been leading a cross-party coalition to tackle the rise in homophobia throughout Europe. He has in the past supported the gay pride march in Warsaw, which he attended. He is also the President of the European Parliament's Intergroup on gay and lesbian issues. Cashman is a member of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. In 2014, he criticised McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Visa Inc. during a session of parliament in protest at their sponsorship of the 2014 Winter Olympics taking place in Sochi, Russia, despite Vladimir Putin having recently introduced legislation against the LGBT community. Cashman cut up his Visa card during the session.
In 2007 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Staffordshire for his human rights work. That same year he was elected MEP of the Year for Justice and Fundamental Rights by his peers.
Cashman was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours for public and political service.
It was reported on 8 August 2014 Cashman was to be among 22 new life peers announced by the government. On 23 September 2014 he was created a Life Peer taking the title Baron Cashman, of Limehouse in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, which is also his birthplace.
In June 2015, Cashman announced his involvement and investment in SuitLink Ltd., a global LGBT and ally professional social network.
In 2007, Cashman supported Alan Johnson for the deputy leadership of the Labour Party. In 2010, he supported David Miliband for the leadership of the party. In 2015, Cashman supported Yvette Cooper for the leadership and gave his second preference to Liz Kendall.
Cashman registered a civil partnership with Paul Cottingham, his partner of over twenty years, on 11 March 2006. They met in 1983 and were together for 31 years until Cottingham died. A fellow actor and humanitarian activist, Cottingham who also worked for the Labour Party as High Value fundraiser and for Britain in Europe, became Cashman's researcher during Cashman's time in the European Parliament. In March 2011 he was diagnosed with a very rare cancer, angiosarcoma, and died on 23 October 2014 at the Royal Marsden Hospital, London. He was cremated in a humanist service at the City of London Cemetery on 7 November 2014.
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