Peter Marshall | 12.04.2010 14:51 | Gender
Cameron supports gay marriage ban
Tamsin Omond and Peter Tatchell
Sr Angel Popstitute
Vote For Change!
Omond who is standing for parliament in the 'To the Commons' campaign in Hampstead and Kilburn, had created the this Facebook event and organised it, introducing the two speakers. The first was a young woman who had worked for the Conservative party on gay rights but had resigned because of their attitudes on the subject and no longer supports the party.
Leading gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of Outrage! who had worked with Omond to publicise the event was given a huge welcome by the crowd and told them of the disappointing meeting he had had that morning with shadow chancellor and Conservative campaign manager George Osborne.
The Conservatives have come up with only two policy promises on gay rights - to erase from criminal records all past convictions for gay sex offences that are now legal, and to have 'zero tolerance' over homophobic bullying in schools. While he welcomed these, he said they did not amount to a great deal and there were too many people still in the party who appeared homophobic - including Chris Grayling who suggested that Bed and Breakfast owners should be able to refuse gay couples. He along with the others taking part in the protest would like the Conservative Party to "come out" with some gay-friendly policies, actively promoting gay rights and equality, and to stand up against anti-gay elements in the party.
The Conservative record is one of lip-service to gay rights at election time but of voting against gay rights, and the infamous 'Section 28' which banned local authorities from "promoting homosexuality" still rankles - and many Tories voted against its full repeal in 2003. Despite a charm offensive towards the gay community by Cameron - including a public apology last year for the party's former behaviour with Section 28 - many still feel the party is basically anti-gay. And they showed it at this event by the repeated chanting that they would never vote Tory.
There were also several times during the party that everyone present was invited to kiss and most seemed pleased to do so, and it was clear that everyone present - although feeling very seriously about the issues - was determined to have fun.
The Conservative HQ was locked and deserted, but there were some Conservatives present and they provided some free ice cream for the party-goers. Doubtless too some of them came and wiped off the many slogans that were chalked on the walls of the building and the pavement outside.
At the end of the event, many of those taking part continued to picnic in the nearby public gardens.
More pictures with this article on Demotix:
and more still in a day or two on My London Diary: