UK: Culture Secretary blocks participation in EU gay rights summit

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Culture Secretary Sajid Javid has reportedly blocked a Lib Dem minister’s plan to attend an EU gay rights summit, and scuppered plans for the UK to sign a declaration against homophobia.

According to the Sunday Times, Javid blocked Lib Dem equalities minister Jenny Willott’s plans to attend the EU summit in Malta.

A senior Whitehall source told the newspaper that the Tories feared that working with Europe on the summit would further alienate their eurosceptic right wing, already angered by equal marriage.

The source said: “The Conservatives have made clear that something that involves gay rights and Europe is not something that they are touching with a barge pole.

“They are terrified of upsetting a hard core of the Tory party.”

The declaration against homophobia will be signed by 11 EU countries, but despite partly being drafted by British civil servants, the UK will not sign.

Javid was appointed last month to replace former Culture Secretary Maria Miller, who stood down over an expenses scandal.

Last year, former Lib Dem equalities minister Jo Swinson was reportedly blocked from attending the same summit by Maria Miller.

The Department for Culture, Media & Sport said: “The UK has an excellent record of tackling homophobia and promoting equal rights.

“We have introduced equal marriage, put in place measures to tackle homophobia in schools and our commitment is clear.”