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Harman calls for sacking of Chris Grayling as she launches gay manifesto

Jessica Geen April 16, 2010
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The Labour party’s affiliated gay group launched its manifesto in Soho last night.

The launch came after deputy party leader Harriet Harman and gay Labour candidate Chris Bryant canvassed for votes in the popular gay village.

Ms Harman was angrily questioned by one woman who objected to her plans to remove escort adverts from magazines and phone boxes.

After handing out leaflets, she and Mr Bryant officially launched the manifesto in a bar.

It promises that a Labour government will implement compulsory sex education, remove a ‘free speech’ amendment from homophobic hate crime laws and tackle homophobia and transphobia in schools and public services.

Holding a copy of the Equality Act, Ms Harman said it would “gather dust on a shelf” if the Conservative Party won power.

She accused shadow home secretary Chris Grayling of homophobia for suggesting that bed and breakfast owners should have the right to bar gay couples and said this was “endorsed by David Cameron”.

She said: “We’ve got a situation where we are fighting as hard as we can but this election is ours to win. It’s going to be a footsoldiers’ election.

“We don’t want to wake up and find we have a homophobic home secretary. David Cameron should have sacked him as soon as he said that.”

Ms Harman added: “If [the Tories] became the government, then all our determination to make progress would have the legs kicked away from under it. We need to be in absolutely no doubt about that.”

When asked by whether she would match David Cameron’s promise to strike out historic gay sex offences, Ms Harman was initially unsure of her party’s stance on the issue.

The manifesto promises that anyone convicted of a homosexual offence which was subsequently decriminalised would “have the opportunity to have their names removed from the sex offenders register and/or the police national computer on application.”

After finding the issue in the LGBT manifesto, Ms Harman would not say she would match the Tories but said: “The question is, is David Cameron going to actually change his view and match us on our commitment?

“I don’t think it’s a question of us trying to match David Cameron in any way, shape or form.”

Ms Harman dismissed suggestions that the Tories were winning the gay vote, but said gay people would have to fight to avoid “having the wool pulled over their eyes”.

She added: “It’s going to be a very close election, a very tight election. I think it’s going to be an election for people to fight for their rights.”

Mr Bryant revealed that he and new husband Jarred Cranney had experienced homophobia while trying to get a room at a hotel four weeks ago.

The candidate for The Rhondda, who had a civil partnership with Mr Cranney three weeks ago, said the pair were told by a receptionist they could not share a double bed.

He said she said: “No, you don’t understand, it’s a double bed.”

When they said they were a couple, they were told : “No, you will not be having a double bed.”

Mr Bryant said: “That’s why what Chris Grayling probably dimisses as a tiny, insignificant thing, is enormously important.”

Related topics: General Election 2010, London

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