June 23, 2011

IconDavid Cameron hosts second LGBT reception

The Prime Minister has hosted his second annual reception for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans community at Number 10.

A large number of sports stars were in attendance in order to highlight the issue of homophobia within sports. These guests included tennis legend Billie Jean King and gay rugby player Gareth Thomas.

King was a relatively isolated lesbian icon at an event attended by a large number of high-profile gay men, including Stonewall Chief Executive Ben Summerskill, Hollyoaks act Kieron Richardson and a number of London nightclub owners.

Guests were addressed by David Cameron following a performance by the London Gay Men’s Chorus. The Prime Minister outlined a number of LGBT initiatives undertaken by the coalition government, which included “laying the groundwork” for civil partnerships in religious buildings. There was no mention of same-sex marriage in spite of the fact that a consultation on the issue is due to begin soon.

Other coalition actions include wiping the criminal records of individuals convicted for sex offences at a time when consensual same-sex acts were illegal, and conducting a large survey on trans issues.

Cameron also admitted that the government could do more to tackle homophobia in sports and in schools. “There is an absolutely tiny number of sports personalities who have felt able to come out and we should be doing far more for those who don’t feel comfortable enough to do that,” he said.

“And that links to the second issue that I want to mention and that is the issue of homophobic bullying in schools, which is still a huge problem in our country. And frankly, the two issues are interlinked because young people need role models and if we don’t have enough role models, enough positive role models, then behaviour won’t change.”

“So I think that while government clearly has a huge role, in making sure we tackle bullying, in making sure headteachers have the powers they need and making sure we address the issue properly, it’s not just a government problem or a legal problem, it’s a societal problem.”

The speech finished with a defence of foreign aid, and the claim that such interventions give the UK “some moral authority” when addressing human rights issues.

“I’m very proud of the fact we [put] huge pressure on the leader of Malawi about an issue in that country but I’m convinced we can do more,” said Cameron. “We have got the ability to speak to African leaders, African governments, about this issue that I know concerns everyone here tonight. And it concerns me.”

The first LGBT reception at 10 Downing Street was held by Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009. David Cameron continued the practice after coming to power in 2010.

[Cameron's speech courtesy of Pink News]

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