Two panel-style hustings meetings are to be held over the course of the general election campaign, with representatives from various of the political parties, in an effort to clarify where they stand on matters affecting the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) communities.
My only reservation about these meetings is that I am not entirely clear of the Party representatives to speak in any 'official capacity' for their respective Parties. Details are:
London - 15th April at Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square at 7.30pm. Organised by the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association (GALHA), the event will feature the co-chair of the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights (LCLGR) Katie Hanson, the chair of Liberal Democrats gay group DELGA and parliamentary candidate Richard Porter and Green London Assembly Member Darren Johnson.
Birmingham - 25th April at the Patrick Centre, Hippodrome, Hurst Street at 7pm. Organised by the Birmingham Pride Community Trust. Former International Development Secretary Clare Short will represent Labour, Shadow Minister for Home Affairs Andrew Mitchell the Conservatives, and Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr John Hemming the Liberal Democrats.
Old-style 'hustings' meetings are a thing of the past, unfortunately. This sounds like a good attempt to bring some important issues before live audiences - so long as they look at matters realistically and not through rose-tinted spectacles. A lot of gay people try to stay as far away from politics as they can - let's face it, they have often been 'burned' by political point-scoring in the past, in this country and elsewhere. I'll write about any feedback from these meetings that I come across.
UPDATE: (Thursday 29APR05 1915 BST) I've posted an entry about an incident that occurred at the Birmingham meeting on 25th April involving a representative from UKIP, not invited to join the panel (for pretty obvious reasons as they are vehemently anti-gay) - you can read the later article by clicking here.