Minister defends gays as policy unit debates family

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The Independent Online
A Government minister yesterday publicly defended the gay community while members of the Cabinet debated how to stop family break-up.

In what is thought to be the strongest speech yet on homosexuality by a minister, John Bowis condemned prejudice faced by gays, lesbians and bisexuals in all walks of life.

The health minister's address - to a conference organised by the mental health charity Mind and gay rights groups - coincided with a seminar on the family held by the Downing Street policy unit.

The Government is looking closely at policies that bind the family together. But critics are likely to seize on the minister's comments as evidence of further divisions within the Tory Party.

In a speech that won him warm applause, Mr Bowis, who has been closely identified with gay causes, spoke of the "richness that lesbian and gay people add to our society".

t Guinness is set to screen Britain's first gay commercial. News of the controversial advert for the beer has sparked a row between clean- up campaigners and gay rights activists.

The full plot of the commercial is being kept secret, but insiders say it could shock by showing two men kissing.