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:
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.