Row over gay hustings
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has attacked a gay general election hustings held on Thursday night, claiming that the Green Party were not allowed to choose their representative.
The event was organised by gay networking service Village Drinks in support of Stonewall.
Initially, it was advertised as including politicians from the three main parties – Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem. Later, Green Party local council candidate Chris Smith was added to the billing.
Mr Tatchell complained today that the Green Party had to lobby organisers to include a delegate from their party and were not allowed a choice of who they could send.
He said he had “never heard” of Tower Hamlets candidate Mr Smith and that the event was “badly organised”.
Mr Tatchell said: “I would have been there if I was invited but the Green Party wasn’t allowed to put a candidate forward.”
Stonewall chief executive Ben Summerskill, who chaired the debate, said that the panelists had been invited by Village Drinks and that he believed the Green Party had been given the choice of who to send.
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He said: “The hustings were for candidates – and Peter is not standing.”
Mr Tatchell recently announced that he was standing down as the Green candidate for Oxford East due to ill health.
Green Party LGBT spokesman Phelim Mac Cafferty said that he had approached Village Drinks to ask about having a representative at the event but was told that Mr Smith had already asked to be involved.
He said: “To be honest, I had never heard of him either but I’m sure he did a great job.”
A Village Drinks spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk: “Chris Smith approached us directly and we were happy to receive him and he was given equal speaking time with everyone else.
“In the first instance, Village Drinks invited members from each of the main parties only. When we were approached by a Green Party candidate we saw no reason not to do anything else but embrace his offer.”