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article imageGlittering guest list at annual Stonewall dinner in London

By Andrew John     Apr 12, 2013 in Entertainment
More than 500 guests, including celebrities and politicians, attended the UK equality group Stonewall’s annual Equality Dinner at London’s Dorchester Hotel last night (Thursday).
The dinner, hosted by the writer and performer Stella Duffy, raised a record-breaking £394,000 to support Stonewall’s campaigns against homophobia in Britain and worldwide.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe attended the dinner – the first time a leader of Britain’s largest police force has attended such a major gay-equality event.
Dinner guests included BBC journalist Clare Balding, style guru Gok Wan, writer Val McDermid, broadcaster Alice Arnold and MPs John Bercow (the House of Commons Speaker), Nick Herbert, Diane Abbott, Angela Eagle and Chris Bryant.
Actor and TV presenter Christopher Biggins led a live auction, with lots including tea with Tony Blair, champagne with actor/writer Jennifer Saunders and VIP tickets to Elton John’s show in Las Vegas. Boy George DJ’d at the after-dinner party.
The host of Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies, Dr Christian Jessen, gave an emotional speech, in which he spoke about a school friend who had taken his own life after being homophobically bullied.
Embarrassing and shameful
“It’s a shocking fact that over half of lesbian, gay and bisexual pupils experience homophobic bullying,” he told guests “And I think it’s embarrassing and shameful that in 2013 there are still young people, like my friend Paul, who struggle to understand why what they are seems to matter so much more than who they are.”
Stonewall’s deputy chief executive, Laura Doughty, said: “Homophobia remains a huge problem in Britain’s schools, and in 80 countries worldwide it’s illegal to be gay. These are just two of the challenges we’re dealing with every single day.
“We know we face a huge challenge in making homophobia thing of the past, and we’re enormously grateful to everyone who made this evening such a huge success.”
Elton John, Tony Blair, Val McDermid and entertainer and TV host Graham Norton were among those who donated lots for the auctions. Lots included a meet-and-greet experience with actor Ian McKellen (Lord of the Rings, X-Men in New York, dinner dates with Gok Wan, Clare Balding and Alice Arnold, VIP tickets to the MTV Europe Music Awards and a Maggi Hambling painting.
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