Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, is suffering from pneumonia and has been moved to a high-dependency unit. But, his office insist that this is not because his condition is deteriorating but to allow closer monitoring.

The 69-year-old has resigned as deputy leader of the Labour Party, sparking a contest with six candidates vying to replace him with gay rights firmly on the agenda. John Cruddas, Hazel Blears, Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson and Peter Hain have all given interviews to PinkNews.co.uk in recent weeks.

In a statement, Mr Prescott’s spokesman said: “The Deputy Prime Minister’s Office has confirmed that the Deputy Prime Minister is suffering from pneumonia.

“He has been moved to a high-dependency unit, not because of a deterioration in his condition but so that his condition can be monitored more closely.”

Mr Prescott is believed to be being treated at University College Hospital, London after he was taken ill on a journey between his Hull constituency and London.

As the Prime Minister, Tony Blair will be in Germany at the G8 summit, there is some confusion over who will chair Thursday’s Cabinet meeting. Some are speculating that it could be chaired by the future Prime Minister, Chancellor Gordon Brown.

There was mild amusement in January when Mr Prescott revealed his exposure to gay men while working on a cruise ship in the 1950s.

He was speaking about his experiences as a crew member of the RMS Rangitata in 1957.

With his trademark clarity, Mr Prescott reminisced that, “the thing that struck me most was that when I joined it they didn’t sail out the North, they sailed out the South and there were a lot of gay guys on board and I was quite amazed at this.

“And I remember saying, spending three months on a voyage and there were ten gay guys in a room and I said, ‘I’m not staying in a room like this.’ Anyway I went in another room,” reports The Daily Mail.

The North/South comment seems to mean that the gay crew came from Southern England.

Last year the DPM spoke up for gay rights while standing in at Prime Minister’s Questions for Tony Blair.

Asked by the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson about the Sexual Orientation Regulations’ effect on religious people in Northern Ireland, Mr Prescott could not have been more eloquent in his defence of equality.

“I am not a religious man, but I always understood that religion was about tolerance. There is not much tolerance being shown in what the hon. Gentleman has said.

“It is a pity that we do not show more tolerance to different cultures and different religions. We would be a lot better off for it.”

Earlier this year it was announced that London’s Millennium Dome, owned by homophobic billionaire Philip Anschutz, will not play host to the UK’s first super-casino.

In July 2006, a scandal engulfed Mr Prescott over his undeclared stay on Mr Anschutz’s Colorado ranch.

Mr Anschutz has donated large sums of money to Colorado for Family Values, an organisation with explicitly homophobic views.

He is also a major patron of the Republican Party and funded “Amendment 2,” a voter initiated ballot to overturn gay rights in the state of Colorado.

He is also a major donor for the Institute for American Values, who campaign against single parent families.