Michael Cashman is one of three Labour supporters who have been appointed life peers.
Cashman first came to fame playing EastEnders’ Colin Russell, one of the very first gay characters in a British soap, from 1986 to 1989.
In 1989 he went on to found gay rights organisation Stonewall with Sir Ian McKellen and Lisa Power.
He was elected Member of the European Parliament for the West Midlands constituency in 1999, and continued as an MEP until he resigned in May of this year.
During his time in Brussels he constantly campaigned against homophobia and was President of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on gay and lesbian issues.
Cashman is one of 22 new working peers appointed by Downing Street.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “Throughout his life Michael Cashman has been a passionate defender of human rights. As a founder of Stonewall and a member of the European Parliament he has fought tirelessly for LGBT people.”