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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 18, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 25
Britain's Tories snub Gays, then throw a party for them
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Britain's Tories snub Gays, then throw a party for them

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Sending decidedly mixed messages, Britain's ruling Conservative Party scrapped the traditional Pride reception hosted by the mayor of London, but announced that new Prime Minister David Cameron will host his own Pride reception instead.

London mayor Boris Johnson, a Conservative party member, announced June 2 that his administration would end receptions that are specific to minority groups, including the Pride reception.

Instead, the mayor wants to hold "borough community receptions" in each of London's neighborhoods.

Mayor Johnson wants to "bring people together rather than focusing on what is different," his spokesperson announced.

Cameron's event will be held at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence, and will be the first specifically LGBT event ever held by the Tories.

Cameron's spokesperson said the Downing Street event would be a "community" event rather than a political one and a "celebration" of the efforts made by LGBT rights activists.

"Ahead of a summer of Prides, it will be a recognition of the importance Gay people play in national life," the spokesperson said.

Labor party Prime Minister Gordon Brown began holding Downing Street receptions for Pride and LGBT History Month in 2009.

The prime minister's office would not reveal who was on the guest list, although they indicated that Labor party members would be invited.

Under Brown, noted Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell was pointedly not invited to Downing Street, reportedly because Brown was annoyed by his criticisms of Labor's record on LGBT rights.

The prime minister's office also declined to say if Cameron would attend the July 3 Pride March.

Johnson's decision to scrap the London Pride reception was roundly criticized by his predecessor "Red Ken" Livingston, a stalwart of the left-wing faction of Labor.

Livingston, who lost to Johnson two years ago and plans to run against him again in 2012, promised to reinstate city-sponsored Pride events if he wins.

"The decision to end civic recognition at City Hall of the importance of Pride is a snub to LGBT Londoners," Livingston said.

"This shows how little importance Boris Johnson's administration places on acknowledging the contribution of London's many communities and the great scope and range of human experience that makes our city such an extraordinary place.

"First Boris Johnson made cuts to Soho Pride, then he withdrew the Greater London Authority from the Stonewall Employers' list, now he's putting an end to civic recognition of LGBT Londoners at City Hall.

"LGBT Londoners are an asset to our city and they will not be swept under the carpet like this should I be elected."

The Greater London Authority remains the largest single sponsor of Pride events in the city, and is expected to contribute about one-third of the Pride Festival's total budget.

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