Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of LGB (lesbian, gay and bisexual) rights charity Stonewall, has pulled out of attending and speaking at the Conservative Party’s LGBT event to be held tonight (click here for the video).
The event, which is hosted by gay Conservative blogger Iain Dale and lesbian entrepreneur and parliamentary candidate Margot Jones, has been overshadowed by the controversy of the party’s coalition with homophobic parties within the European Parliament.
The party has invited Polish Law and Justice Party MP Michal Kaminski to speak at its conference this week. Mr Kaminski was filmed calling gay people “fags” in an interview in 2000. He is now the president of the Tories’ new bloc in Europe, the European Conservatives and Reformists Group.
Pulling out of the event, Mr Summerskill told Channel 4 News: “There is no doubt the progress that has been made in the last couple of years has genuinely been historic.
“It would be churlish of anyone not to welcome the apology a couple of months ago over Section 28.”
“But the event tonight has been overshadowed by the presence, not just at conference but on the same platform as some senior members of the party, of people of such extreme and offensive views.
“And certainly there are people I’ve spoken to at the conference today, not just gay people but Jewish delegates as well, who share that viewpoint.”
The decision by Mr Summerskill to withdraw follows the publication of a letter signed by celebrities including Ewan MacGregor, Stephen Fry and Jo Brand which asked Tory leader David Cameron to oppose the views of his party’s new European allies. Fry last night told Channel 4 News that Mr Cameron had aligned his party with an “unpleasantly homophobic nationalistic party in Poland and [are] sharing their whip in Europe.”
Konrad Szymansk, an MEP with the Law and Justice party, said in July: “We have already agreed that in these matters we will each keep to our own convictions.
“Law and Justice has a clear stand on this issue – we are against both homosexual marriages and the adoption of children by gays and lesbians. That is how our Euro MEPs will always vote.
“If some Tories happen to have a different view on this, then this grouping will not be voting unanimously on these issues…..”
PinkNews.co.uk will report from the event later on Wednesday morning.