As thousands of Londoners prepare to take part in this year’s Pride march, Boris Johnson’s commitment to gay equality has come under attack from rival Ken Livingstone.
The former Mayor and Labour’s 2012 candidate has accused his successor of “downgrading” support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Londoners since taking over at City Hall.
Livingstone’s attack comes as the Mayor said he wanted the capital “to be the benchmark for LGBT equality” and called for an end to complacency towards homophobic hate crime and bullying.
Mayor Johnson said his office would “continue to work with LGBT groups as well as the police to tackle a problem that still affects too many lives.”
However Mr Livingstone said the Mayor’s record on equality included cutting funding for the Pride march and withdrawing from the Stonewall Equality Index – the ranking of the most gay-friendly employers in Britain.
Labour also claim the Mayor has “failed to stand up against Tory spending cuts which have cut funding for organisations working to tackle discrimination and inequality for LGBT Londoners.”
Defending the Mayor’s record, City Hall says he has “committed to £100,000 towards the delivery of Pride London” and worked with Stonewall to distribute an anti-homophobic bullying DVD to all secondary schools in the capital.
Mr Livingstone said he wanted to see “greater leadership on equality in London with a far greater focus on tackling homophobia on our streets and in our schools and a willingness to stand up against the Tory-led government’s cuts which are having their impact on LGBT communities.”
Labour’s Mayoral hopeful says he will be taking part in Saturday’s march.
City Hall has confirmed Deputy Mayor of London Richard Barnes will also be attending the event, as he has in past years.
Mr Barnes said “Being part of London’s Pride celebrations is one of the highlights of the year. It is an enormously positive expression of community and underlines our city’s status as a place where LGBT people can be themselves.
“With the eyes of the world focusing on London in 2012, we are already looking ahead to World Pride and want LGBT people to be at the heart of the celebrations surrounding the Olympic and Paralympic Games. So let’s set the tone this Saturday with a wonderful Pride!’