By Paul Canning
If you were to stop people in a British street and ask them to name a gay rights campaigner I would bet money they would name Peter Tatchell. For twenty years he has been in front of the media.
Yes, Sir Ian McKellan is more famous but I doubt most people would see him as a more prominent campaigner than Tatchell.
But Peter is a thorn in the side, not least to those who are quick to praise the Labour government on LGBT issues and slow to critique it. Last year he had a very public word with Harriet Harman at London Pride about LGBT asylum - 'why are we sending gays back to Iran?' This followed her being heckled as she spoke. Of course Harman made promises which were immediately forgotten about.
Most notable of those who don't like Tatchell are the gay establishment, those whom Labour have awarded gongs to. So it's unsurprising to learn that when Ten Downing Street hosts an event for Pride Month on Saturday morning Tatchell won't be there. Neither will he be at Mayor of London, Boris Johnson's soirée, according to Tatchell's tweet, despite being a patron!
Tatchell also says about another Downing Street event in March, held to dismiss the widely believed idea that Gordon doesn't like the gays, he was actively dismissed from the guest list.
An insider tipped me off that my name had been removed from the invite list, at Gordon Brown's personal request. He was apparently still angry that I had heckled him over his government's erosion of civil liberties, when he opened the Taking Liberties exhibition at the British Library late last year.You could imagine that those invited into the golden circle are not exactly likely to say 'I'm not coming if Tatchell's not there' given that Peter says they're "tame apologists for Labour". And that is precisely what is happening.
Not that Tatchell gives a shit:
I don't do my human rights work to win awards, honours or invites. It doesn't matter to me that I haven't been invited.
What angers me is the principle - the way the Prime Minister invites and fetes mostly tame pro-Labour loyalists in the LGBT community. It is a manipulative tactic by an insecure government that knows its record on LGBT human rights is not as glorious as it claims.
And if the evidence of the Mayor's non-invitation is anything to go by "mostly tame pro-Labour loyalists in the LGBT community" deliberately exclude him precisely because he just so damned awkward.