Brown accused of homophobic support

By Ian Dunt

Leading gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has launched a vicious broadside against the prime minister ahead of this year’s Gay Pride festival.

“He claims to support gay equality but his government actually endorses some aspects of homophobic discrimination,” Mr Tatchell said.

Gordon Brown has said he will not attend the annual Gay Pride march this Saturday for security reasons, but his wife Sarah will go instead.

“This is just an excuse,” Mr Tatchell claimed.

“He’s not marching because he knows he would be booed and jeered, like he was at the D-Day commemorations.”

Mr Brown is instead planning to hold reception at Downing Street for gay rights campaigners and the pink press on the morning of the march.

“Critics of the government’s record, like myself, are not invited,” Mr Tatchell said.

“The same selective invitation criteria was applied when Gordon Brown hosted a Downing Street reception for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) campaigners in March.

“An insider tipped me off that my name had been removed from the invite list, at Gordon Brown’s personal request. He was apparently still angry that I had heckled him over his government’s erosion of civil liberties, when he opened the Taking Liberties exhibition at the British Library late last year.”

Mr Tatchell said Mr Brown supported various forms of discrimination against homosexuals, including the civil partnerships arrangement, which some gay activists say denigrates gay relationships but putting them on a lower footing than marriage.

Activists are also upset the Home Office sometimes allows homophobic reggae singers to enter the country on a tour.

There are also concerns at the absence of any protection for gays and lesbians against harassment in the upcoming equality bill.

“Labour’s many commendable gay law reforms are no excuse for its stonewalling on the abolition of these remaining aspects of homophobic discrimination,” Mr Tatchell concluded.

Mr Brown released a statement to the gay community saying: “I’m very proud of all that this government has achieved on LGBT rights these last 12 years; from equalising the age of consent, lifting the ban on military service, introducing gay adoption and creating civil partnerships to scrapping section 28, introducing the Gender Recognition Act and banning discrimination at work and in the provision of goods and services.

“We won’t ever give up on the fight for equality – we are marching with you every step of the way. The Labour government has one simple guiding ideal when it comes to LGBT rights: you can’t legislate love.”

Labour has passed a raft of equality legislation since it came to office, but recent surveys have shown gay support for the Tories on the increase.