A party celebrating LGBT diversity at Conservative conference was overshadowed by several incidents of homophobic behaviour, ITV News has been told. Attendees have expressed their outrage at the actions of several participants who had to be removed for allegedly using abusive language. The event at Reflex nightclub was organised by LGBT Conservatives on the final night of the conference and was open to anyone with a security pass, including party members, lobbyists and others.
Hundreds of people attended the event, which takes place annually. Two sources have described to ITV News how one attendee had to be escorted from the venue for calling a gay man a "f**" - a highly offensive homophobic term. Another man was thrown out for calling two women a "dirty l*****" - a derogatory term derived from the word ‘lesbian'. One of the victims told ITV News: "We kicked someone out who was blind drunk and called me a dirty l***** and that I needed to watch my back.
“I don’t feel like I morally fit in anymore.”
ITV News has been informed that the individuals using the offensive language were both Conservative party members, but has been unable to verify this claim. Last night the Chair of LGBT Conservatives, Elena Bunbury, alluded to the homophobic abuse in a tweet.
This morning, Jessica Zbinden-Webster, Head of Women for LGBT Conservatives, also tweeted.
When approached for comment by ITV News, Elena Bunbury, Chair of LGBT+ Conservatives and the event organiser commented: “It’s a real shame this happened and shows why groups like ours are so important.
"The venue staff were brilliant at removing people and had zero tolerance for it. We will continue to stand firm against hate crime.”
This is not the first time the Conservative Party's LGBT group has raised concerns about the party's conference. For the past two years there has been a row about the inclusion of the LGB Alliance - a campaign group opposing transgender rights - which has been given a stand in the conference hall. Last month party headquarters also demanded that LGBT Conservatives remove branded condoms from their conference stall, raising concerns about the image they might portray. The new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, was formerly Equalities Minister, where she was embroiled in the controversy surrounding gay and trans conversion therapy, with the government yet to deliver its promised ban on the practice. A Conservative spokesperson said: “We have had discussions with LGBT+ Conservatives regarding this incident, which took place outside of the conference secure zone, and offered them our support.
"If those involved are identified as members of the Party, we will launch swift investigations.
"Any form of discrimination or abuse is wrong and complaints can be made in confidence under our Code of Conduct”.
Anneliese Dodds, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities said: "These are deeply troubling reports. "The Conservative Party must take these allegations seriously and investigate them urgently. Anyone found to have engaged in homophobic abuse must face disciplinary action.
"Hate crime against LGBT+ people has doubled over the last five years under the Conservatives. Labour would act by making all LGBT+-related hate crimes aggravated offences.”
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