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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tories losing the gay vote

Today's Independent reports that the Conservative Party's efforts to reach out to gay voters has suffered a fresh set-back after a Conservative election candidate described homosexuality as "not normal". The party immediately denounced Philip Lardner's comments as "deeply offensive and unacceptable", suspended him from the party and disowned his candidacy.

However, as the report points out this is the third embarrassing row over the party's attitude towards homosexuality to hit the Conservative campaign and there are now signs that Tory support is sliding within the gay community:

A survey for pinknews.co.uk suggested that support for the Conservatives among the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community had collapsed over the last year. It found 58 per cent of LGBT voters said they intend to vote Liberal Democrat next week, compared with 21 per cent for Labour and just 9 per cent for the Tories. A similar survey ahead of last year's European elections found 39 per cent planned to vote Tory.

Almost half (49 per cent) said they wanted Nick Clegg to become Prime Minister, with 20 per cent preferring Gordon Brown and 19 per cent David Cameron

Other incidents highlighted by the paper include the apology by Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, over comments in which he said that people who ran bed and breakfasts in their homes should "have the right" to turn away gay couples and also comments by Julian Lewis, the shadow Defence Minister. He said that the age of consent for homosexuals should not have been lowered to 16 because it put teenage boys at "serious physical risk". The party distanced itself from Mr Lewis's comments, but decided not to take action against him.

All-in-all the new look nurtured by the Conservatives appears to have been significantly derailed by their own candidates.
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