OutRage! backs Boris over abolition of gay advisory panel

PinkNews logo surrounded by illustrated images including a rainbow, unicorn, PN sign and pride flag.

A radical gay rights group has backed the Conservative Mayor of London’s decision to scrap a short-lived Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Advisory Panel.

The panel was formed in March this year by then-Mayor Ken Livingstone and only held one preliminary meeting before the change of administration in May.

Brett Lock of direct action LGBT rights group OutRage! said that Mayor Boris Johnson was “quite right” to scrap it.

“It was elitist, unelected, unaccountable and anti-democratic,” he said.

“No one elected the panel. They were hand-picked by Ken and were not necessarily representative of the LGBT community.

“Instead of negatively sniping at the Mayor, LGBT groups should concentrate on presenting Boris with practical and constructive policy ideas for the benefit of LGBT Londoners,” he said.

The panel which was chaired by Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, included Linda Bellos of Black Lesbians UK, Jackie Lewis of trade union UNISON, Lynsey River of Polari, the older people’s LGBT network, Brenda Ellis of REGARD, a disabled LGBT group and Pav Akhtar, Chair of Imaan, a Muslim LGBT group.

Mr Akhtar, who is also a Labour councillor, issued a press statement last week condemning the dissolution of the panel.

“Instead of petty party-political point-scoring, gay Labour activists should concentrate on pressing their own party to stop mistreating LGBT asylum seekers and end the ban on same-sex marriage,” said Mr Lock.

OutRage! claimed that Ken Livingstone refused to appoint an LGBT advisor or to set up an LGBT Advisory Panel until the run up to the 2008 Mayoral election.

“During the controversy over his invitation of the terrorist-supporting, sexist, anti-semitic and homophobic Islamist cleric Dr Yusuf al-Qaradawi, there were pleas to Ken to meet with LGBT groups to discuss their concerns,” said Mr Lock.

“He rejected these LGBT pleas.

“Similar requests to give an advisory role to the quarterly LGBT Forum meeting, which meets at City Hall, were also shot down by Ken Livingstone.

“Ken Livingstone imposed his straight Women’s Advisor, Anni Marjoram, as chair of the LGBT Forum. He refused to allow the Forum to elect its own chair, make policy recommendations, propose resolutions or take votes. It was a rubber stamp -undemocratic, unaccountable and powerless.”

A spokesman for the Mayor of London told PinkNews.co.uk:

“The present administration is continuing with the quarterly meetings involving LGBT organisations and the Mayor will use a range of channels to consult with the community, not least through the members of his team that happen to be gay.”

OutRage said that the Mayor should be “scrutinised very closely” given what they described as his “past homophobic insults and poor track-record on LGBT equality,” but said they hope the quarterly meeting should continue.

“We certainly hope he will consider instituting some of the democratic reforms that were vetoed by his predecessor,” said Mr Lock.