Carl Austin-Behan was born and raised in Manchester. On leaving school he worked in various retail roles before joining the Royal Airforce as a firefighter aged 19. His postings included the UK, Belize and Ascension Island.
During active service Carl received a number of awards and recognition for his bravery, including the RAF Safety Centre’s Good Show Award, and the Royal Humane Society’s award for rescuing a pilot from a burning Hawk Aircraft. He was mentioned in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 1996, with a Commander In Chief’s commendation.
In 1997 Carl was dismissed from the RAF, as it was deemed that his homosexuality was ‘incompatible with service life’. Moving back to Manchester he joined Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Service in 1998 before setting up a promotions company and then a specialist cleaning company with a business partner.
In 2001, he also entered and won a national competition, Mr Gay UK.
Living back in Manchester City Centre, Carl developed an interest in politics, seeing a route to making a difference and inciting change. He moved to Burnage and in 2011 was elected Labour Member for Burnage Ward. Passionately active in the community and proud to represent the residents, Carl sat on the Neighbourhood Scrutiny Committee and was a member of the Licensing Panel, as well as Lead Member for Gay Men and Lead Member for Cycling.
Always active in the community, including 14 years in the Boys’ Brigade as a youngster, voluntary roles in later life include supporting the Northern Air Hospital Radio and Gaydio, an LGBT station.
Two charity treks in Malawi raised over 100,000 for children with HIV, and a trek to Everest Base Camp in 2013 raised £25,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society, a charity he regularly supports.
Carl married his long-term partner, Simon in 2015, and still lives in Burnage. In 2016 he was elected to the office of Lord Mayor of Manchester: the youngest in the city’s history, and the first openly gay Lord Mayor.
During his time in office, Carl raised public awareness and promoted the diversity, contribution and achievements of LGBTQ+ individuals to the community, as well as highlighting issues faced by individuals. He also raised more than half-a-million pounds for the Lord Mayor’s Charity during his time in office.
Carl believes that different identities and sexual orientations should be respected and celebrated: in Greater Manchester and nationally. An ambassador for Manchester Pride; President of Contact Theatre; Trustee for We Stand Together charity; and working with various LGBTQ+ charities, he is passionate about promoting diversity, equality and inclusion within our communities. Leaving Manchester City Council earlier this year, Carl is embarking on new challenges and opportunities to do just that.
Carl was recently awarded by The University of Bolton with an Honorary Degree of Doctor of the University in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the community.