Tory gay group says Ken Livingstone should be banned from Pride

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Conservative Party’s LGBT group, LGBTory, has called for mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone to banned from tomorrow’s London Pride over his alleged “close friendship” with an anti-gay extremist.

The group’s chairman, Matthew Sephton, accused Mr Livingstone of being a “hypocrite” who will “undermine the core values” of the event.

Mr Livingstone’s campaign responded with a string of criticisms against mayor Boris Johnson.

Mr Livingstone, who was mayor of London between 2000 and 2008, hopes to win the Labour nomination for the 2012 race. Yesterday, he wrote a comment for accusing the Tory-run City Hall of being “passive” and “directionless” on gay rights.

Deputy mayor Richard Barnes responded by calling Mr Livingstone an “old retread”.

Mr Sephton claimed that Mr Livingstone’s presenting work for Iran’s Press TV, his friendship with Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman and his support of Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi – who has been accused of homophobia – make him unsuitable to join the march.

He said: “Mr Livingstone’s record on LGBT equality is shameful, proved time and time again by his close friendships with barbaric, anti-gay regimes and repugnant characters who believe homosexuality is not only a crime but that gay people should be killed.

“He should not be allowed to hi-jack and exploit this weekend’s parade and risk undermining core values of such Pride events unless he ditches his links with such regimes and unsavoury characters.”

In response, a spokesman for Mr Livingstone said: “It sounds like the nasty party is back – the Tories are worried that Boris Johnson has failed to deliver on LGBT issues, will not be turning up to the last Pride before the mayoral election, axed the annual Pride reception and took London government out of the Stonewall Equality Index.

‘Ken’s clear plan to put the pride back into London shows he is more in touch with Londoners who want to put London back on track whereas Conservative Boris Johnson has delivered nothing and failed to stand up for LGBT London in the face of Tory-led government cuts.”