Mayor of London Boris Johnson has apologised for making a controversial joke at a gala dinner for Pride in London about gay men taking their husbands up the “Arcelor” on their wedding day after criticism by Labour MPs Angela Eagle and Chris Bryant.
Speaking on Tuesday evening at a £250 a head Pride gala dinner at Claridge’s, in Mayfair, central London, Mr Johnson mentioned that “gay men and women in this city” will be able to get married by the autumn, once the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill is signed into law.
Mr Johnson jokingly suggested in his speech that they should get married at “the absolutely beautiful ArcelorMittal Orbit.”
He then added: “It will be the perfect ceremony; you can take your partner up the [Arcelor]. I think I can get away with that.”
The ArcelorMittal Orbit is the iconic red sculpture in London’s Olympic Park.
Gay Labour MP Angela Eagle misheard Mr Johnson’s joke, thinking he said amid much laughter “up the Arsenal”, a joke with the same meaning.
Ms Eagle, the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons who was at the event, tweeted: “Boris speaking at LGBT Pride fundraising event made a speech about the Olympics & an off colour ‘joke’ about Arsenal #notamused #WontSayGay.”
She added: “His crass and tasteless remarks only serve to undermine all the hard work and progress made by the gay community.”
Several guests walked out on hearing the remarks – although many people laughed at the joke.
The Mirror reports gay Labour MP and Shadow Immigration Minister Chris Bryant said the joke “would be funny from Julian Clary or Christopher Biggins, but from Boris it just sounded nasty and brutish”.
The Mayor’s spokesman said last night: “He is sorry if Chris and Angela were offended by what was clearly a joke, and one that as PinkNews reported, was received with ‘much laughter’ by the majority of the room.
“The joke was delivered in the context of his much publicised support for gay marriage, and for Pride itself, which the Mayor is funding to the tune of £500,000 over the next few years.”