Conservative candidate says homosexuality is 'not normal'

The Conservatives' efforts to reach out to gay voters 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.

It is the third embarrassing row over the party's attitude towards homosexuality to hit the Conservative campaign and last night there were signs that Tory support was sliding within the gay community.

Mr Lardner's political career came to a swift end after he spelt out his support on his website for Section 28, the law enacted in 1988 by the Thatcher government preventing schools from "promoting" homosexuality. Mr Cameron last year apologised for the Tories' previous support for the measure.

But Mr Lardner, who is standing in North Ayrshire and Arran, told voters: "With experience as a teacher and a believer in parental rights and responsibilities, as your MP I will support the rights of parents and teachers to refuse to have their children taught that homosexuality is 'normal' behaviour or an equal lifestyle choice to traditional marriage.

"I will always support the rights of homosexuals to be treated within concepts of [common sense] equality and respect, and defend their rights to choose to live the way they want in private, but I will not accept that their behaviour is 'normal' or encourage children to indulge in it."

His posting, under the heading "what I believe in", also asserted that most people believed homosexuality to be "somewhere between 'unfortunate' and 'simply wrong'".

Chris Bryant, the Europe Minister, who last month held the first civil partnership ceremony in the House of Commons, said the comments betrayed the "nasty, judgmental truth behind the Tory campaign".

During campaigning, Mr Cameron said he had taken action against his candidate "within minutes". He said: "I think people in the gay community know it is easier for people who are Conservative and gay to vote Conservative than at any time before.

But he conceded: "The Conservative Party has been on a journey. Has it been far enough and fast enough? Perhaps not, but it's gone further than many other parties around the world."

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 .

Chris Grayling, the shadow Home Secretary, apologised 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 The Independent revealed last week that Julian Lewis, the shadow Defence Minister, had said 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.

Last night Tory sources denied the party had acted inconsistently by taking tough action against Mr Lardner, insisting there was "no comparison" between the cases.

His name will remain on ballot papers as it is too late to withdraw from the election. It is also too late for the Tories to select a candidate in the Scottish constituency.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Electronic Service Engineer - Television & HI-FI

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Engineers for field & bench ser...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Designer - Award Winning Agency

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity for a t...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global provider of call ce...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service and Business Support Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: By developing intimate relationships with inte...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Joe Root: 'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

'Ben Stokes gives everything – he’s rubbing off on us all'

Joe Root says the England dressing room is a happy place again – and Stokes is the catalyst
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada