Gay Tories' plea to Portillo

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Indy Politics

Homosexual Tory campaigners have arranged crisis meetings with Ann Widdecombe and Michael Portillo, writes Jo Dillon.

Homosexual Tory campaigners have arranged crisis meetings with Ann Widdecombe and Michael Portillo, writes Jo Dillon.

They fear that after last week's defection from the party of homosexual businessman Ivan Massow, others could follow him to the New Labour fold.

The Tory Campaign for Homosexual Equality (Torch) wants the Shadow Cabinet to drop policies that have been seen as "anti-gay" to help shed the Tories' homophobic image.

The group, which has 400 members, will call for an end to the party's backing for Section 28 - the law introduced by Margaret Thatcher to bar the promotion of homosexuality in schools. They also aim to canvass frontbench support for new plans to liberalise gay-sex laws - on group sex in the home and public displays of affection.

Despite Miss Widdecombe's well-known traditionalist views, Torch has no qualms about approaching her. The group's Marc Cranfield-Adams said: "She has a bit of a camp following. A lot of gay Tory men think she's wonderful. She's greatly admired for her no-frills approach, though not quite in the class of Margaret Thatcher, who was an icon."

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