Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Posts Tagged ‘LGBT issues’

Ken, Julie, Shazia and a Tory Called Dave

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 30th January, 2010

There was a rowdy Question Time-style meeting (compered by DJ Stewart Who?) at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Lambeth last night, at which the main sport for some was clearly Bindel-baiting. Columnist and radical feminist political activist Julie Bindel has upset the transgender community with several of her comments about gender dysphoria and related topics, and about 40 Trans-people and friends held a good-humoured demonstration outside the venue (corraled safely by police, well away from the entrance) chanting slogans criticising the RVT’s decision to ‘give a platform to bigotry’. Inside the pub was much noisier at times, as a few persistent hecklers shouted at her every time she said (or they thought she said) something that offended them, some even drawing parallels between her and Nick Griffin of the BNP. One person threw a plastic name-badge and lanyard at her. Former London Mayor Ken Livingstone, the out-gay Tory parliamentary candidate for Eltham, David Gold, and I therefore found ourselves having to speak up for freedom of speech, as well as defining our own varying lines on the LGBT issues that were being raised. Shazia Mirza, the Muslim comedian who, like Julie Bindel, has been receiving death threats, brought some welcome light relief with some well-judged satirical jokes. It was a shame, though, that the evening became rather dominated by the Bindel-bashing, as I would have liked to ask the personable David Gold what he is going to do to protest about his party leadership’s cuddling up to homophobes in Northern Ireland and the European Parliament. And also to explain the extraordinary boxed quote at the top of his website, from ‘a former Labour voter’, viz: “My purse was stolen in the supermarket. Immigration is out of control. We need a change.” That strikes me as pandering to xenophobia, even racism, which sits oddly with his commitment to LGBT rights.


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London Pride

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 5th July, 2008

 The sun shone on London Pride today. My precautionary umbrella became no more than a theatrical prop. Four of the top five Liberal Democrat European candidates (Dinti Batstone, Chris Le Breton, John Pindar and myself) were on the march through London’s West End. Our colleague, (Baroness) Sarah Ludford MEP was understandably celebrating her mother’s 90th birthday instead, but she has been doing sterling work on LGBT issues on the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee. That was summarised in an excellent leaflet knocked up for the event by the party’s special interest group, DELGA, in which I also made a pledge that, in solidarity with people living with HIV and AIDS, I shall refuse to set foot in the United States again until Washington lifts its iniquitous ban on people with HIV/AIDS traveling there.

Britain has made huge advances on LGBT rights since Roy Jenkins decriminalised adult, consensual male homosexuality in 1967. But there is still much progress to be made in several other EU member states, both at the governmental and popular level. And things are still dire in several of the EU’s near neighbours, including Belarus, Moldova, Russia and Turkey — all specifically highlighted by members of the large Amnesty International contingent on today’s London Pride parade.

Nick Clegg made what was reportedy an excellent speech at the concluding rally in Trafalgar Square. As I was helping to man the DELGA stall, right up against the National Gallery, at the time, I couldn’t actually hear it, so I look forward to the press release. It has to be said, though, that the loudest cheers were for my Tower Hamlets neighbour, the actor Sir Ian McKellen. Oh, and a bevvy of behived, transvestite Amy Winehouse look-alikes.

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