Peter Purton graduated from Oxford University with a DPhil in History. He came out as gay while at university and was involved in campaigning for LGBT liberation, from a left-wing perspective. His first national campaign was that to defend the paper Gay News against Mary Whitehouse’s prosecution. Throughout his professional life, Purton was instrumental in driving forward the LGBT equality agenda within the Labour Party, TUC and NATFHE (now UCU) garnering support for LGBT equality across the trade union movement both in Britain and through international trade union structures, and promoting trade union engagement with LGBT communities (for example, through Pride).
Retiring from his role as TUC LBGT/Disability Officer in 2016, Purton has continued to support the struggle for equality in trade unions, and has written his book Champions of Equality: Trade Unions and LGBT Rights in Britain (Lawrence & Wishart, 2017) so that the lessons of this history are not lost.