Following a garden reception that he hosted last summer – shortly after becoming Prime Minister – David Cameron hosted his second LGBT reception at 10 Downing Street on Wednesday 22 June.
This year, the Prime Minister’s annual reception for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community had a focus on tackling homophobia in sport. “The event will bring together representatives of sport governing bodies, associations and clubs that have signed up to the Government’s Charter Against Homophobia in Sport, with gay sportsmen and women, medal winners from the Cologne Gay Games in 2010 and representatives from business, the arts, media, charities and campaigners for LGBT equality,” said the invite from Downing Street.
Although originally planned as a garden party, bad weather earlier in the day meant the event was relocated inside Downing Street. The event was attended by a wide range of representatives from the world of sport – most of whom have signed up to the Government’s Charter Against Homophobia in Sport. Among those in attendance were rugby players Gareth Thomas and Ben Cohen, tennis legend Billie Jean King, politicians such as deputy mayor Richard Barnes and Lord Chris Smith, representatives from the gay press – including Square Peg media publishers Linda Riley and Sarah Garrett – scene faces such as Jeremy Joseph and the Ku Bar’s Gary Henshaw, and representatives from a variety of gay charities. Members of the London Gay Men’s Chorus entertained the party with songs, before the Prime Minister himself took the microphone to give a speech, highlighting steps that government has taken since taking power to help the LGBT community, and indicating that work still needs to be done in changing attitudes – singling out sport as an area that still needs help in tackling homophobia – particularly as so many sports stars are regarded as role models by young people. He also said that the Government would continue to raise issues of LGBT rights with other countries in the world – particularly countries in Africa to which the UK gives financial aid, and where homophobia is known to be a problem.
“I think this is right morally because, as a rich country, we should be helping the poorest people in the world,” he said. “But it also has a spin-off benefit of giving us some moral authority in the world to talk to other leaders and governments about our relationship with them and what we expect from them.”
Among those attending were Chris Basiurski, the chair of the Gay Football Supporters Network, who welcomed the news that future government funding for sporting bodies would be conditional on them signing up to a Charter of Action, which would include an obligation to tackle homophobia.
“We cautiously welcome this Charter for Action, but now we want to see action and not just words. For many years we have been pressing for the issue of homophobia in sport to be taken seriously and we are delighted that the Government and the sporting bodies have taken this important step.”