Tory leader David Cameron has risked a large section of the vote for his relaunched Conservative party in the forthcoming general election after slipping up in an interview on gay rights in which he seemed to suggest MPs should be allowed to vote against laws which uphold homosexuality as a basic human right.
After frequent hesitations, at one point Cameron pauses and asks for the interview, with the Gay Times, to be concluded.
Recently, Cameron has drawn criticism for Conservative MEPs' failure to support a vote condemning a Lithuanian law which has been described as 'homophobic', and is facing growing pressure over the Tory's European representatives' right-wing alliances.
Given the Conservatives' introduction of the controversial 'Section 28', a law passed in 1988 which banned the promotion of homosexuality in schools and for which Cameron has since apologised, the Tory party are keen to distance themselves from any accusations of discrimination on the grounds of sexuality. Cameron in particular has been criticised for his record on gay rights, having voted against the repeal of Section 28 in 2003, which passed in spite of the Tory leader's support for the measure.
Watch the Gay Times interview (slip-up at 1:57)
The Conservatives have responded to the criticism by emphasising their MEPs' voting record on gay rights, which has included support for a European Resolution on homophobia in 2006, and claiming that it would not be appropriate for them to register their support in the case of the Lithuanian vote since it was "a matter for member states". "David Cameron would probably accept it was not his clearest interview on the subject", a Conservative spokesman conceded, "but there can be no doubt that under his leadership, the Conservative Party has changed, and that includes our stance on gay rights."