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Gay politicians use Mardi Gras stage; HOMOSEXUALITY: Speeches seek tolerance and true equality for the gay community.

THE political parties will be vying for the pink vote today when Wales's two openly gay MPs both appear at the nation's premier event for gays and lesbians.

Labour's Chris Bryant and Plaid Cymru's Adam Price will both make speeches from the stage of the Mardi Gras festival in Cardiff's Bute Park.

And the Liberal Democrats will be getting in on the act as they launch a campaign for the Welsh capital to follow London's example by recognising same-sex partnerships.

Last night both of the gay MPs, who were elected for the first time in June, said they wanted to avoid lengthy speeches but felt there were important points to be made.

Mr Bryant said, "If you'd asked anyone for their stereotype of the Rhondda before the election it would have been that they would never elect anyone like me. But I ended up with more votes than anybody else in Wales in the election - which goes to show that kind of prejudice is a thing of the past.

"There are a lot of young people growing up in Wales who discover that they are gay and can feel some kind of freak. So it's important that we have role models and that we work to ensure equality in the law."

Mr Price described the event as "a celebration of diversity that is characteristic of the tolerant and inclusive Wales we all want to see".

The Carmarthen East and Dinefwr MP added, "Unfortunately, there are still to many instances of gay men and lesbians facing discrimination.

Mardi Gras is an opportunity to show the kind of confidence that allows all men and women to be open with their friends, families and colleagues."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Sep 1, 2001
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