A ground-breaking conference on “Faith, Homophobia and Human Rights” will take place tomorrow, Saturday 17th February, in London’s East End.

It comes as Anglican leaders meet in Tanzania to debate the church’s position on gay people – a highly controversial issue for the Anglican communion.

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement (LGCM), who are coordinating the conference, have secured sponsorship and support from over 50 prominent organisations.

They including the Home Office, the TUC, the Gay Police Association, BT Openreach and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Over 200 participants are expected to attend the conference in Bethnal Green, which will hear from leading public figures.

Speakers include Chris Smith, former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, the Revd Giles Fraser, Team Rector of Putney and lecturer in Philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford, and Kay Carberry, Assistant General Secretary of the TUC and a member of the Commission on Equality and Human Rights.

Brian Coleman, who is Chair of the Greater London Assembly, will open the event.

“By any standard the amount of grassroots and mainstream support for the conference is amazing,” LGCM’s Chief Executive Richard Kirker said yesterday.

“This has the potential to forge partnerships and co-operation across a wider range of bodies than has ever been achieved.

The conference will focus on key issues relating to faith, homophobia and human rights.

The Chairman of the Gay Police Association, Paul M Cahill, yesterday stressed the need for honest dialogue between the gay community and faith communities.

“The experiences of the Gay Police Association are well documented and identify a clear link between the uncompromising teachings of some faiths towards gay people and the rise in homophobic hate crime.

“Homophobia in all it forms and regardless of its justification is a scourge on society and causes immeasurable damage to the lives of many gay men and women.

“We hope that this conference, will be an opportunity to identify common ground so that we can all unite against hatred.”

For more information on the conference, go to http://www.lgcm.org.uk/fhconference/