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Gordon Brown hosts first LGBT reception

Jessica Geen March 6, 2009

Gordon and Sarah Brown held a reception at Downing Street last night to celebrate the work of LGBT campaigners.

It was the first time the LGBT community had been invited to a reception at number 10.

The event, held to mark LGBT History Month, was due to be held in February, but was postponed due to the death of David Cameron’s son Ivan.

Attendees included Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills, Erasure singer Andy Bell, artist Maggie Hambling and East Enders star turned Labour MEP Michael Cashman.

LGBT politicians, civil servants, campaigners, entertainers, teachers and clergy were also invited.

Mr Brown paid tribute to the work of the community, saying that he was “really proud” of the achievements that had been made over the years in breaking down barriers such as homophobia and discrimination.

He spoke of the “enormous courage” shown by campaigners in fighting for their rights, comparing the struggle to that faced by the civil rights movement and Suffragette groups.

Amid cheers, he said: “We have legislated on inheritance tax, we have legislated on homophobia in schools, we will keep taking legislative measures to protect you.”

On marriage, he stated: “You cannot legislate love.”

The Prime Minister congratulated guests Amy Lamé and her partner Jenny on their civil partnership, to be held today, saying that it would not have been possible without the efforts of LGBT campaigners.

Mr Brown, who had just returned from a visit to America to meet with President Barack Obama, apologised for not bringing the new leader back with him, prompting one woman to shout: “What about Michelle?”

He criticised Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California, as “unnacceptable”, adding that British LGBT campaigners had already shown how it is possible to “break new ground”.

Harriet Harman, who spoke briefly before Mr Brown took the floor, said the reception was the best she had ever been to.

Co-chair of the event Sue Sanders said: “It was a magnificent night and a great honour to receive such a tribute to all our work. We can only hope that it will make next year’s celebrations even bigger and greater, and truly mainstreamed in schools, colleges and local authorities up and down the land.”

LGBT History Month is organised by Schools Out. It was launched in February 2004, in response to the repeal of Section 28.

More: London

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