Prime minister Gordon Brown paid tribute last night to gay and lesbian members of the armed forces at a reception to mark the contribution of the LGBT community for Britain.

He told guests at 10 Downing Street, including a number of gay servicemembers, that there was a “debt of gratitude we can never fully repay”.

He said that the pride they felt was “nothing compared to the pride we feel in them”.

Mr Brown cited the current struggle in the US to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, which bans gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military, saying he knew debate on the issue continued.

In 2009, for the first LGBT reception at Downing Street, Mr Brown said that the ban on gay marriage in California was “unacceptable”.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the British military allowing out gay soldiers.

Mr Brown said: “I promise you that no one need walk the road to equality alone again.”

He also listed the achievements made for gay equality in the last ten years, such as gay adoption and fertility rights for lesbians, saying people had warned these things could not be done.

In the short speech, Mr Brown mentioned Liverpool policeman James Parkes, who was seriously injured last year in a homophobic attack.

Mr Parkes, who has recovered, was at the event with his new husband Tom.

Mr Brown’s wife Sarah spent several hours speaking to guests.

Others there included Paul O’Grady, Dr Christian Jessen and artist Maggi Hambling.

Author Jeanette Winterson also turned up with partner Susie Orbach.