Tatchell claims he was ‘barred’ from Downing Street gay event

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Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has claimed he has been barred from Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Downing Street Pride event for his criticism of the government’s record on gay rights.

In a statement, he said: “I have been campaigning for LGBT human rights for 40 years. I was one of the group of people who helped organise Britain’s first gay pride parade in 1972”.

Calling many of those invited “tame apologists for Labour”, Tatchell said the same “selective invitation criteria” was applied when Gordon Brown hosted a Downing Street reception for LGBT campaigners back in March.

“An insider tipped me off that my name had been removed from the invite list, at Gordon Brown’s personal request. He was apparently still angry that I had heckled him over his government’s erosion of civil liberties, when he opened the Taking Liberties exhibition at the British Library late last year,” he said.

Last week, Gordon Brown sent a message of support to the LGBT community, ahead of this Saturday’s annual Pride London parade. He wrote: “We (the Labour government) won’t ever give up on the fight for equality – we are marching with you every step of the way.”

Brown has declined invitations to march on Saturday’s gay pride parade, citing “security considerations”. PinkNews.co.uk reported yesterday that his wife Sarah will join the parade instead.

Tatchell attacked the government’s support of civil partnerships, saying: “He [Brown] claims to support gay equality but his government actually endorses some aspects of homophobic discrimination.

“It supports the ban on same-sex marriage. Civil partnerships are not equality. They are a form of sexual apartheid, with different laws for gay and straight couples.

“I don’t do my human rights work to win awards, honours or invites. It doesn’t matter to me that I haven’t been invited.

“What angers me is the principle – the way the Prime Minister invites and fetes mostly tame pro-Labour loyalists in the LGBT community. It is a manipulative tactic by an insecure government that knows its record on LGBT human rights is not as glorious as it claims.”

A Downing Street spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk: “It’s not a reception, it’s a very small meeting. The prime minister and Sarah Brown will meet organisers of Pride and others who have contributed to the event. You could fill number 10 with people who have been involved in gay rights.”