Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has said that a Cabinet minister got a frosty reception at Pride London on Saturday because of the government’s stance on gay asylum seekers.
Harriet Harman, the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party and Secretary of State for Equality, was booed by some people in the crowd of 20,000 people who gathered in Trafalgar Square after the Pride parade.
In his address from the main stage Mr Tatchell had urged the crowd to boo Ms Harman.
“At several points during her speech a bewildered Ms Harman appeared to waiver and had to struggle to be heard,” said Mr Tatchell.
“It got so bad that the gay Pride organisers came on stage and appealed to the crowd to stop jeering and listen to what she had to say. Their appeal had limited effect.
“Hundreds of people in the crowd expressed their anger at the way the Labour government is locking up gay asylum seekers, refusing them refugee status and ordering them to be sent back to violently homophobic countries like Algeria, Uganda, Iran, Nigeria, Iraq and Belarus.
“Those who are returned are at risk of arrest, imprisonment torture, rape and even murder.
“I tried to explain the crowd’s anger to Ms Harman as she left the stage. But several gay Pride stewards violently shoved me out of the way and threatened to have me arrested. It was needless and unjustified aggression.”
Security at Pride London was tight, with a string of high-profile performers and politicians appearing on the main stage at Trafalgar Square.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, led the parade through central London, but due to family commitments he was unable to stay and speak to the crowd.
Mr Tatchell raised eyebrows with his placard at the parade, which depicted the President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, wearing eye shadow, lipstick, a gold earring and pink nail varnish.
Next to the President’s wagging finger was a speech bubble with the words: “My penis is this big.”
“Sometimes the best way to deflate tyrants is by mocking them,” said Mr Tatchell.
After the parade he addressed the crowd, and condemned the government for its stance on gay and lesbian asylum seekers.
The Home Secretary stated last month:
“Current case law handed down by the asylum and immigration tribunal concludes that the evidence does not show a real risk of discovery of, or adverse action against gay and lesbian people who are discreet about their sexual orientation.”