PM meets Pride team before parade

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is welcoming equality rights campaigners to Downing Street before the annual Pride march through central London. His wife, Sarah, is expected to join the colourful celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture. This year’s theme is Come Out and Play and a host of flamboyant floats will give the West End a party atmosphere. The Downing Street meeting follows a row over a Labour minister’s claims that many Tory MPs are homophobic.

Among the festival’s organisers and patrons due to attend was comic Rhona Cameron. In his message to Pride London, Mr Brown described the creation of civil partnerships as one of a set of “massive strides towards equality” for the gay community made under Labour – “often in the face of fierce opposition”.

‘Sexual apartheid’

“This government is committed to standing at your shoulders in the fight for equality and we are guided by one very simple principle when it comes to LGBT rights: you can’t legislate love,” he said. Pride founder Peter Tatchell, expected to march alongside Mrs Brown, has described civil partnerships for same-sex couples as “a form of sexual apartheid”. He claims they institutionalise different marriage laws for heterosexual and homosexual people.Mr Tatchell said he hoped to persuade Mrs Brown to talk to the PM about it.

Meanwhile, the political row over homosexuality rumbles on. It was triggered when Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw, who is openly gay, told a public debate there remained a “deep strain of homophobia” running through the Conservative Party. It provoked an angry reaction from Alan Duncan, one of two gay members of the shadow cabinet, who accused Labour of “poisonous mudslinging” in a bid to stir up hatred and reopen old divisions.

“It is deeply unworthy and unjustified,” he said. Mr Bradshaw has since recognised the work of Tory modernisers such as David Cameron, via his blog. But he encouraged voters to examine the voting records of Conservative backbenchers on gay issues. Commons Leader Harriet Harman has also weighed in by criticising the Conservatives for voting against her Equalities Bill.

She told that Mr Cameron’s apology earlier this week for his party’s 1980s controversial Section 28 ban on the promotion of homosexuality was “25 years too late”.

Story from BBC NEWS:

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