Speaker launches gay rights group Kaleidoscope

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New gay rights group Kaleidoscope has been launched by its honorary president Speaker John Bercow.

A reception was held in parliament last night to celebrate the new non-profit organisation, which seeks to help LGBT people and rights movements around the world.

Mr Bercow said: “ Discrimination, abuse, threats, incarceration, violence, torture and death are still very much part of the daily diet that is meted out to a large number of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in countries across the world.”

Labour leader Ed Miliband also spoke, calling the new initiative “incredibly important”.

Bisi Alimi, a Nigerian man who was beaten and threatened with death when he came out, told the crowd that Kaleidoscope has a new approach to human rights work.

He said: “I am tired of international organisations coming to Africa to tell us what to do. Kaleidoscope is coming to Africa to say, ‘What do you want us to do?’, and that is the most important thing.

“Please support Kaleidoscope. We have a mission, we have a vision, but without you we might not be able to get it.”

The 120 attendees included senior politicians, human rights activists and well-known faces from the gay community.

Elton John and George Michael did not attend and organisers said details of the guest list had been “misreported”.

But one notable absence was gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who said he had been barred from attending.

Mr Tatchell, who has never been invited to LGBT receptions in parliament, told PinkNews.co.uk: “I gave [director] Lance Price and Kaleidoscope lots of help when they first discussed setting up a long time ago – including masses of contacts, such as African LGBT activists.”

Mr Price said the Speaker’s office bore responsibility for the event’s guestlist.

He added: “If it wasn’t for Peter, we wouldn’t all be here tonight. He was one of the first people I spoke to when setting up. Peter’s been brilliantly supportive of Kaleidoscope and we’re going to have a really good relationship.

“The more people we have working in their own ways, the more chance we have of protecting people.”