Gordon and Sarah Brown hosted an intimate reception in Downing Street’s gardens this morning for organisers of London Pride and the pink press.
Those in attendance included gay MPs such as Chris Bryant and Nick Brown, organisers of Pride, Stonewall chair Ben Summerskill and MEP Michael Cashman, along with Attitude editor Matthew Todd, newly-installed Gay Times editor Tris Reid-Smith and PinkNews.co.uk.
Although the prime minister and his wife did not make any speeches, they spent around ten minutes talking to each attendee.
PinkNews.co.uk publisher and Channel 4 business and technology correspondent Benjamin Cohen described the event as “very private”.
He said: “I was really surprised as the door swung open to see Gordon Brown’s son playing with a toy car.
“The prime minister told me there was still much to do for gay rights, despite everything Labour has achieved. He pointed to cultural change, especially in schools and sports.
“He mentioned one technological advance at Millwall Football club, which allows fans who are being targeted with racial abuse to text their seat number in order to report it. He said that things like this should be widespread and should also be used to tackle homophobia.
“We also talked about religion and about my own experiences of being at a Jewish faith school. He said it was difficult to reconcile religious problems and sexuality. He also spoke about advances in IVF for lesbians, saying it was very important.”
“Sarah Brown said this was not the first time she had attended a Pride march, having attended before as individual rather than as the prime minister’s wife. She also confirmed there were still issues to be tackled in terms of gay rights.”
Cohen continued: “There was no issue of politics in discussion but it wasn’t neutral either. Many of those there had worked with Labour to bring about legislative change.
“There was some discussion about Peter Tatchell not being invited but this wasn’t an event for everyone under the sun, it was a very small event for Gordon Brown to thank people involved with Pride and to discuss the issues with the pink press. As I left, the prime minister and I briefly discussed the roll-out of broadband for everyone, in my capacity as a technology reporter.”
Matthew Todd, the editor of Attitude magazine, told PinkNews.co.uk: “I thought it was great. It was great to see people like Chris Smith and Michael Cashman who have done solid, hard work [for gay rights] and are still doing so. Ten years ago, this reception would never have happened.
“Gordon and Sarah Brown were really engaging, they knew what they were talking about on issues such as schools. It was inspiring to be there.”
Nearly one million people are expected to attend London Pride today. Boy George is expected to make his first appearance following his release from jail last month, while organisers have said there will be a surprise special guest appearing later tonight.