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Stonewall boss boycotts Tory gay event

By Channel 4 News

Updated on 06 October 2009

The equality campaign group Stonewall pulls out of the first official Gay Pride event at Conservative conference event in protest over the party's right wing allies in the European parliament.

Ben Summerskill

Summerskill had been lined up as a star speaker at the event in Manchester's gay village during the conference, but Channel 4 News has learned that he will not be attending.

Stonewall's decision followed the appearance of two Eastern European MEPs at a fringe meeting this lunchtime. The pair angrily rejected claims that they're homophobic, anti-semitic and harbouring a neo-Nazi past.

"There is no doubt the progress that has been made in the last couple of years has genuinely been historic. It would churlish of anyone not to welcome the apology a couple of months ago over Section 28," said Summerskill.


"But the event tonight has been overshadowed by the presence, not just at conference but on the same platform as some senior members of the party, of people of such extreme and offensive views.

"And certainly there are people I've spoken to at the conference today, not just gay people but Jewish delegates as well, who share that viewpoint."

Among the Tories' controversial new allies is Michal Kaminski, chair of the Conservatives new European Conservatives and Reformists grouping in the European Parliament. Today he attended a lunch today hosted by the Conservative Friends of Israel.

Last month voted against a European resolution which aimed to fight homophobia. In 2000 he was taped referring disparagingly to "fags".

When asked by political correspondent Cathy Newman why he would not be attending the event at was going to be a star speaker, Summerskill answered: "You would have to draw your own conclusions about that."


Jon Snow spoke to actor Stephen Fry and Conservative MEP Dr Charles Tannock.

Mr Fry is one of a group of activists, which also includes comedian Eddie Izzard and the Unite union, who have written to David Cameron asking him to reconsider the Conservative party's links with the Polish Law and Justice party.

He told Channel 4 News: "It seems extraordinary that the modern Tory party, in which I fully believe in terms of its acceptance of gay people, should sudddenly have changed its tune or at least allow itself to associate itself with these people."

Dr Tannock defended the alliance, saying: "I've been a member of the European parliament for 10 years, I've known the Polish Law and Justice party for five years, I know central and eastern Europe extremely well, and I have never come across any utterances of the kind that Stephen makes strong allegations about."

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