Stonewall chief Ben Summerskill says Tories are monitoring Polish allies’ homophobia
Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill has said he has been reassured by the Conservative Party that it is checking past statements made by its European allies for homophobia.
Speaking at a fringe meeting today, he denied that he had been asked by Labour to pull out of the official Conference Pride party last night, saying he simply wanted an early night.
He was supposed to speak at the event but pulled out at the last minute, saying that Conference had been overshadowed by people with “extreme and offensive views”.
David Cameron had invited Michal Kaminski, a Polish Law and Justice MEP and the president of the Tories’ new European grouping, to speak at Conference.
According to BBC News, Summerskill was greeted with boos by gay Tories but said: “I am not being used by Downing Street.” He added that he had simply wanted to go to bed “at a normal hour”.
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He told delegates at the Stonewall fringe meeting that he had been assured by shadow environment and justice minister Nick Herbert that the party was scrutinising previous statements made by Law and Justice politicians for homophobia.
Herbert, also speaking at the event, said that Stonewall appeared to be in thrall to Labour. He told Summerskill that he was “in danger of being perceived as not being a cross party group by your actions”.
Herbert added: “You cannot define the Conservative Party’s attitude to gay rights by these [European] alliances. It is just not a sensible position to take . . . the Tory party has changed – we want equality.”
Yesterday, an open letter from celebrities such as Stephen Fry, Eddie Izzard and Ewan MacGregor urged Tory leader David Cameron to oppose the views of the Law and Justice Party.
Speaking to Sky News this afternoon, Cameron said he would respond “very clearly” to the letter.
He said: “I don’t believe the Law and Justice Party are homophobic.”
“Poland is a Catholic country. Most of the parties in Poland do take a stance like that on issues like gay marriage.
“I don’t happen to agree with them but they’re not a homophobic party.”