Broadcaster Sandi Toksvig has said she is “enraged” at Pride in London for excluding her Women’s Equality Party from taking party in a Mayoral hustings.
Speaking in a new interview with PinkNews, Toksvig said she was “absolutely gutted” that the party’s candidate for London Mayor had not been invited to the hustings on Monday.
She said the Women’s Equality Party (WE Party), of which she is a co-founder, is “about equality for everybody”, and that she was upset that she thought “the one place that ought to understand about the need for equality and diversity is within the LGBT community”.
It is understood that Pride in London based its five choices for the hustings on each party’s performance at the last general election, at which point the Women’s Equality Party had not yet been formed.
Toksvig added: “The party didn’t exist, so it’s not a very sensible way to decide to proceed. Especially when it is the fastest growing political party in the country and we have been asked to all the other hustings.”
Appearing at the sold out event is Sian Berry, Green Party, Zac Goldsmith, Conservative Party, Sadiq Khan, Labour Party, Caroline Pidgeon, Lib dems and Peter Whittle of UKIP.
Asked whether she thought maybe her party was excluded was because of its name which suggests it is primarily about women’s issues, Toksvig simply said: “It’s about equality for everybody”
“I think it would be really good to pay attention to women’s issues and only the Women’s Equality Party is trying to put those forward. I really, really hope that somebody at Pride [in London] has some sense, and understands that the job of fighting for equality and diversity is not done – here’s a newsflash for some of those people – it includes the 4 million women in London,” she continued.
Of the fact that UKIP’s Peter Whittle was invited to speak, yet the WE Party’s candidate Sophie Walker has not been asked, Toksvig said: “It seems offensive that we’re not going to be there. I am so angry – yet I’m a very calm person.”
“I’ve rarely been more enraged in a very long time. I like to think that the LGBT community is better when it stands together and in this instance I think the women have been done a disservice. Lesbians are doubly disadvantaged because we’re gay and we’re female. It’s time somebody stood up and understood that.”
She questioned why, if it is likely that the choice will be between Labour candidate Sadiq Khan and Tory candidate Zac Goldsmith, Pride in London invited the Greens, UKIP and Lib Dems to attend.
Asked whether she thinks, if elected, Sophie Walker would ban UKIP from marching in Pride, as was the case last year, Toksvig said: “Well I’m not the candidate for Mayor – I am a great fan of the words of Patrick Henry – a great American revolutionary – “I dislike what you say. I defend to the death your right to say it.”
A statement on the event page for the hustings reads: “We selected representatives of the five political parties with proven representation in London – the same rationale as used by the BBC for their recent 1-2-1 interviews. Given the large number of candidates contesting this election, we felt the need to limit the panel in this manner to ensure a dynamic event with a high level of engagement with the audience and the candidates in attendance.”
PinkNews has reached out to Pride in London for a response to Sandi Toksvig’s comments.