New cabinet ministers Reid and Beckett under immediate pressure from gay community

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background. Exclusive

The newly appointed Secretaries of State for the Home Office and for the Foreign Office have immediately been put under pressure to improve the lives of gay people both within Britain and abroad.

Speaking exclusively to following the appointment of John Reid and Margaret Beckett to the roles of Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary respectively, veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell called on them to put the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) community at the forefront the of their agenda.

As John Reid attempts to reign in the asylum and deportation problems within his department, Mr Tatchell calls on him to “take urgent action to halt the deportation of lesbian and gay refuges who have fled homophobic torture and imprisonment in countries like Uganda, Pakistan, Egypt, Jamaica and Iran.

“We need proper training on sexual orientation issues for asylum staff and adjudicators. The Home Office information on homophobic persecution around the world needs to be radically revised to make sure that it is up to date and accurate.”

Turning to the new Foreign Secretary, Margaret Beckett, who moves from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to be Britain’s first female holder of the post, Mr Tatchell said: “I Appeal to Mrs Beckett to ensure that the Foreign Office takes a much more pro-active role in challenging homophobic violence in other parts of the world.

“She should be using diplomatic pressure and Briton’s role in the United Nations to help highlight the rising level of homophobic murders in Iraq. British Embassies should be instructed to give refuge to lesbians and gay men fleeing police and vigilante violence.”