Ben Summerskill – April 2008

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Let’s make this clear – We want equality for all.

An inspiring ally in Stonewall’s campaign for a new offence of incitement to homophobic hatred has turned out to be Sheri Dobrowski, mother of 24-year old Jody. Since Jody was murdered on Clapham Common in south London just over two years ago Sheri has done everything she can to improve the world for other gay people. ‘Jody was targeted by his killers, punched and kicked to death, simply because he was gay,’ Sheri said in a letter to some members of the House of Lords. ‘The attack which killed my son was not isolated. Hundreds of men and women across Britain are verbally and physically attacked every year, singled out because they are, or are thought to be, lesbian or gay.’ We all owe it to Jody’s memory to continue working tirelessly for equality.

‘On our first date,’ confides effervescent weathergirl Sian Lloyd, the former squeeze of asteroid-fearing MP Lembit Opik, ‘I think I was expecting a kiss, but there was no hint of one. Still, I was impressed; a man, who notices my shoes, sees I’m feeling restless and offers to help get me home. For a moment,’ Sian adds sadly in her new autobiography, ‘I wondered if he might be gay.’ Heterosexual dating doesn’t sound like much fun!

It’s exactly 40 years since Enoch Powell announced disgracefully that Britons would soon be wading through ‘rivers of blood’ as a consequence of immigration. He also said that black men would soon ‘have the whip hand’ over white and be controlling the country. How similar it all sounds to the dark threats we hear nowadays in the House of Lords and elsewhere that ‘gay rights will soon trump religious rights’ and Stonewall ‘controls’ the government. Just because we want fair treatment for all. Enoch Powell was wrong 40 years ago, and the enemies of equality are wrong today.

Shed a tear for Will Young. The other night the lovable balladeer was spotted being refused entry to Mo*vida, one of the coolest clubs in London. Did he throw a tantrum or ask: ‘Do you know who I am?’ like a forgotten ex-That’s Life star? No. He called up Agyness Deyn on his mobile and she came out to let him in. At my age, the only Aggie I have on my mobile is Aggie MacKenzie from How Clean is Your House.

Stonewall’s Brighton Equality Walk on May Bank Holiday Sunday is now just weeks away. People are travelling from all over the country to join Dicky and Dolly, Richard and Lea from Big Brother and Amy Lamé on our 10k seaside stroll. Please do think about spending a day or two in one of the most gay-friendly cities in Britain to help our work.

Ben Summerskill is chief executive of Stonewall. To join the Brighton Walk or support Stonewall’s campaign to stop homophobic bullying in schools, visit www.stonewall.org.uk

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