Ken Livingstone In Homophobia Row

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 74 months ago
Ken Livingstone In Homophobia Row

Ken Livingstone's in trouble for his language in a New Statesman interview. Discussing the nature of personal vs public life, he  said:

"... unless there is hypocrisy, like some Tory MP denouncing homosexuality while they are indulging in it... Well, the Labour ones have all come out... As soon as Blair got in, if you came out as lesbian or gay you immediately got a job. It was wonderful... you just knew the Tory party was riddled with it like everywhere else is."

We understand and appreciate the underlying sentiment but the wording, from such an experienced politician, is highly surprising. You tend to find "riddled" used about cancer, bullets, STDs or – another popular derogatory use, heaven help us in the context – AIDS. Just because Ken's main opponent is a man known for glib comments getting him into trouble, doesn't mean he should start taking tips.

Lib Dem Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick has taken offence. Paddick, who is gay, says

"When he talks about homosexuality in the Conservative party as being 'riddled with it like everywhere else' his remarks are clearly homophobic. He is a political opportunist who likes to be controversial in order to draw attention to himself, I think his true feelings towards LGBT people have seeped out."

We don't think Ken is genuinely homophobic – his record is excellent – but does this gaffe show that the 66 year old is growing out of touch?

The New Statesman also carries an interview with Boris Johnson, and is on shelves now.

Last Updated 09 February 2012


The Londist is riddled with stories already published elsewhere


As much as I dislike Ken, I think this was a malfunction of words as opposed to a secret homophobia.  No one could accuse him of being anti-gay.

Andy Brice

Surely he means "Riddled with homophobic hypocrisy" rather than "Riddled with homosexuality". Or at worst "Riddled with lies about people's sexuality".

Now yes, "riddled" only really ever refers to something negative, and it's debatable whether you can condemn someone for lying about their sexuality. But you can certainly condemn a person for hypocrisy and homophobia.

Dave H

Ken's clearly not a homophobe. But he is a bit of an idiot for using wording like this in an interview.

Still, Ken is no stranger to making unfortunate comments that lead to accusations of prejudice, as Oliver Finegold and the Reuben brothers can testify.

Alastair Rae

Storm in a teacup. Ken is not perfect but I don't think homophobia is one of his faults.

Special Needs

It's possibly the most distasteful example of irony I have witnessed in a long time that Brian Paddick should accuse Ken Livingstone of political opportunism whilst using deeply cynical political opportunism. To suggest that Ken Livingstone's "true feelings towards LGBT people have seeped out” utterly the man's long stance on homosexuality. Livingstone has been a vocal supporter of gay rights for decades. Shameful.


Methinks the real story is about Tory politicians protesting loudly at a sentence (or part sentence) taken completely out of context - out of the context of the rest of the sentence, the point that Ken was making, the question asked and even the context of the rest of Ken's life.

Amazing when you think about it, especially with all the homophobic statements that Boris has made over the ages!


I think Ken meant to say that the Tory party is 'riddled' with Conservatives whose only saving grace is that they are homosexuals (if in denial).


I trust ken more than Paddick who smells like a self- hating gay man


I'm sure Ken's a party-line gay rights supporter and has been since his tub thumping days when any and every minority needed to be courted for support.  Now LGBT equality issues are somewhat broader in reach, this topic is scarcely an issue which divides any of the mainstream political parties.  

For sure Ken's regime EMPLOYED its quota of gays, but Boris appointed a number of significant ELECTED gay politicians to high office - the late and much lamented Sir Simon Milton, and the presently alive and very much kicking Richard Barnes were both Deputy Mayors of London.   

The idea that the centre-left has more gay representation than the centre-right is easily turned on its head when you figure that of the 22 openly gay Westminster MPs, 13 of them are Conservative.