Yet another reason why gay voters are deserting the Tories for the Lib Dems

The Tories seem to be doing their best to lose the vote of gay people. Last month it was shadow Tory home secretary Chris Grayling who landed himself and his party in trouble by defending the rights of bed-and-breakfast owners to discriminate against gay couples. Then the party’s shadow defence minister Julian Lewis alleged that equalising the age of consent had increased the risk of HIV infection.

And now the Tories have had to suspend one of their would-be MPs for describing gay people as “not normal”. The BBC reports:

Tory election candidate Philip Lardner has been suspended for describing gay people on his website as “not normal”, the party has confirmed. … The primary school teacher’s name will remain on ballot papers because it is too late to remove his nomination. He will still be listed as a Conservative candidate, although a party spokeswoman said they had made clear they no longer supported him. Mr Lardner had been reinstated to the party in 2008 after a previous suspension over claims he made racist comments by portraying former leader of white-rule Rhodesia, Ian Smith, as a hero. On that occasion, Mr Lardner did not deny making the comments but suggested they had been taken out of context.

His latest suspension was provoked by comments in the “What I believe in” section of his website, under the sub-heading: “Homosexuality is not ‘normal behaviour’.” The former Territorial Army soldier wrote of his support for the controversial “clause 28″, which was introduced by the Conservatives under Margaret Thatcher and banned public bodies from promoting homosexuality.

This latest example of backwards Tory thinking perhaps helps explain the collapse in the party’s support among gay voters, with the Lib Dems the overwhelming choice of 58%. Pink News reports:

A group of 911 LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] people, weighted demographically and geographically have been informing PinkNews.co.uk of their voting intentions since March 2010 as well as their votes in the 2005 general election. Support for the Conservative Party has fallen from 17% in 2005 to 9% today. Labour support has dropped from 29% in 2005 and in the 2009 poll to 21% today. Liberal Democrat support has increased from 20% to 58%. The Green Party have dropped from 10% in 2005 to 8% today.

Oh, and here’s another reason why gay voters might doubt the resolve of the Tory party in advancing gay equality – here’s a stumbling and mumbling David Cameron defending his party’s record in an interview for Gay Times recently:


(Also available on the Channel 4 website here).

In stark contrast to the Tories mix of confusion and homophobia, Nick Clegg has set out in crystal clear terms five firm proposals he would move to implement as Lib Dem policy to promote gay equality.

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5 Comments

  • Former Green Party candidate and gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has called for Green supporters to vote for the Liberal Democrats in certain seats.

  • Anthony Aloysius St 27th Apr '10 - 11:54pm

    Pleased to see that link proved useful.

  • The rage of Angie Bray and a couple of other Conservative MPs over Ken Livingstone’s interview in which he said the Tories were “riddled” with gays is ridiculous and cynical. When I was a member of the Conservatives there were not only dozens of closeted MPs and activists who happily voted against equality and even supported Section 28 and other homophobic moves. For years as an openly gay Tory Councillor I suffered abuse and ridicule – but not just from the Conservatives but also from Labour and the left. That’s the catch with Ken that although he did champion equality it was a narrow view that only Labour and the left could deliver it. That’s why I joined the Libdems in 2001 – Angie Bray has clearly forgotten Michael Portillo’s doomed Conservative leadership campaign, losing to Iain Duncan Smith after the tabloids questioned Portillo’s sexuality. That’s also why I’m a much happier person after 10 years in the Libdems – and thanks Nick Clegg for your call for full equality for LGBT people.

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