Gordon Brown: Britain should ‘take the lead’ fighting homophobia in Europe

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Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has urged Britain to take a leading role in Europe to help tackle prejudice and discrimination.

The ex-Labour leader, who stood down as an MP in May after 32 years in Parliament, was speaking about the future of his party ahead of next month’s leadership election.

While speaking about global diplomacy, he warned against voices within Labour hindering the ideals of “European cooperation”.

He asked: “Are we saying that we the people of Britain, we – progressive voices in the country which stood up to fascism in Europe, helped defeat totalitarianism in Europe, refused to have any truck with anti-Semitism in Europe and have persistently stood up against racism in Europe – are ready to abandon European cooperation, our membership of Europe, just at the time when with our progressive ideas we should be taking the lead in Europe’s fight against illiberalism, totalitarianism, anti-Semitism, racism and the extremisms of prejudice and discrimination on grounds of colour, creed and sexuality in every form?”

Elsewhere in the wide-ranging speech, the former PM and Chancellor defended his party’s record in government, under his leadership and that of Tony Blair.

Paying tribute to flagship legislation passed under a Labour government, he said: “Look at 1997. Yes we made mistakes. We would not be human if we did not make mistakes…”

“[But] Scrapping Section 28 and introducing Civil Partnerships – power used for a purpose – was not a mistake.”

He continued: “And it’s no mistake now to fight, to win, to be a party of government and to use the power of government to change lives.”

His comments on Europe come after Conservative PM David Cameron declared that the UK was the ‘best country in Europe’ on LGBT rights.

Echoing the words he first wrote on PinkNews when same-sex marriage became law, he said: “I have long believed in marriage as the bedrock of society and I am proud that in Britain whether you are straight or gay the State will recognise your relationship as equal.

“Together we should be proud to live in a country judged to be the best place in Europe if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans.”