Pink memorial for gays who died in battle

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More than 200 people attended a wreath laying ceremony at the Cenotaph in Whitehall yesterday to commemorate homosexuals who died in armed service.

The hour-long event, a week ahead of the official Remembrance Sunday commemoration, was immediately condemned as "distasteful" by the Royal British Legion.

After pink carnations were laid at the memorial, Peter Tatchell, spokesman for the gay rights group Outrage, said: "The British Legion should be joining our ceremony not criticising it." But the Legion said the service was "bound to offend many former soldiers".

Servicemen who happened to chance upon the ceremony said they were not offended. Albert Judge, an 85-year-old Chelsea pensioner, saluted the assembled gays and lesbians as he walked down Whitehall. "If it's genuinely for those sort of people who fought in the Great Wars I have got nothing against it," said Mr Judge, who served five years in the Royal Navy and 31 years with the Royal Signals.

George Savage, 70, of Covent Garden, who was selling poppies, said: "If they fought and they served I am not against it, but I am against all this political stuff. I don't have a problem with gays."