Pride in London has backed down and invited the Women’s Equality Party candidate to its Mayoral hustings – after complaints from the party’s co-founder Sandi Toksvig.
The Pride in London organisers originally insisted that only the top five performing candidates would be invited to the London mayoral LGBT hustings set to take place this evening: Labour’s Sadiq Khan, Tory Zac Goldsmith, Lib Dem Caroline Pidgeon, UKIP’s Peter Whittle and the Green Party’s Sian Berry.
However, comic Sandi Toksvig – the co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party – told PinkNews in an exclusive interview that it was “enraging” that her party’s candidate Sophie Walker had not been invited.
Ms Toksvig said: “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 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.”
Following her blistering criticisms, Pride in London backed down from its long-held stance – and will welcome Ms Walker to the debate.
A spokesperson for Pride in London said: “After Catherine Mayer and Sandi Toksvig, the co-founders of the Women’s Equality Party (WEP), contacted the Board of Pride in London on Saturday (19th March), a constructive conversation was held today (Sunday 20th March) and agreement reached for the inclusion of Sophie Walker in the inaugural LGBT+ Pride in London hustings for candidates to be Mayor of London.”
A joint statement from Pride in London and the Women’s Equality Party said: “We are pleased to announce that Sophie Walker from the Women’s Equality Party will be joining the hustings for London Mayoral candidates tomorrow night.
“This event rightly puts LGBT+ diversity at the forefront of the Mayoral campaign. It provides the first opportunity for members of the LGBT+ community to ask questions of and engage with some of the candidates in the race to be Mayor.”
“London is a global city and the way in which LGBT+ people are treated sends an important message out around the world about our values of tolerance and respect. It is important that conversations about Pride and this event share those values.
“Credit must be given to the team of fantastic volunteers who have worked so hard to organise the hustings event, which is both important for London and the LGBT+ community.”
Chair of Pride in London, Michael Salter-Church MBE said: “We are pleased to welcome Sophie to the hustings event tomorrow night, WE is an exciting new force in politics and we look forward to working with them more closely in the months ahead.
“David Geary and his team of volunteers have done a fantastic job at bringing the candidates together for the first debate of its kind.
“London is a great city, but still too many members of the LGBT+ community face discrimination of some form.
“It is therefore vital that the Mayor of London works tirelessly to make the capital a more equal and tolerant place, to this end we are delighted that so many of those attending have signed up to the Pride pledge for politicians.”
Catherine Mayer, co-founder and President of WE said: “We are excited to be engaging in this important debate for LGBT+ Londoners and are grateful to Pride in London for including us.
“It is right that the values of tolerance and respect are upheld. WE and Pride share important values and core objectives around diversity.
“The social media debate of the past few days grew heated because I in common with many WE members and supporters care about Pride and want to work together.
“I am delighted we have found a way forward and ask WE members and supporters to join me in applauding Pride in London.
“Pride in London is run by a great team of volunteers who are working hard to improve the lives of people in the LGBT+ community and we are looking forward to developing our relationship with them in the months ahead given we both have equality at the heart of our missions.”