Boris team rejects criticism over LGB advisory panel

Tony Grew July 8, 2008
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A decision by the new London administration not to continue with a Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Advisory Panel formed by former Mayor Ken Livingstone has been attacked by a leading gay Muslim activist.

Pav Akhtar, who is also a Labour party councillor in the London Borough of Lambeth, branded the decision “extremely concerning.”

However, it emerged today that the panel was formed in March this year and only held one preliminary meeting before the change of administration in May.

On the eve of Pride London on Saturday, where Mayor of London Boris Johnson led the parade, Mr Akhtar issued a statement.

“Boris Johnson’s attempts to woo the LGBT community rings hollow given his disbanding of the Mayor’s Lesbian and Gay Advisory group,” he said.

“This decision is extremely concerning given Boris’ long record of opposing LGBT equality when he was a Member of Parliament.”

Independent website gives Mr Johnson, who was MP for Henley from 2001until June this year, a score of 54.5% on his gay rights voting record.

He was absent for many votes, voted against gay adoption in 2002, voted to repeal Section 28 in 2003 and for civil partnerships in 2004.

Click here to see the breakdown of his votes on gay issues.

A spokesman for the Mayor of London told that the panel will no longer be meeting.

“The present administration is continuing with the quarterly meetings involving LGBT organisations and the Mayor will use a range of channels to consult with the community, not least through the members of his team that happen to be gay,” he said.

The panel which was chaired by Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, included Linda Bellos of Black Lesbians UK, Jackie Lewis of trade union UNISON, Lynsey River of Polari, the older people’s LGBT network, Brenda Ellis of REGARD, a disabled LGBT group and Mr Akhtar in his role as Chair of Imaan, a Muslim LGBT group.

In another change of policy from the last administration, the Mayor today announced he is to scrap plans to bring in a congestion charge of £25 for vehicles with the highest carbon dioxide emissions.

The new charge was due to come into effect in October.

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