Malaysian premier's snub to gay minister

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Indy Politics

The Foreign Secretary became embroiled in a spat yesterday with Malaysia's Prime Minister, who said he would throw out any homosexual British minister visiting the country with his partner.

The remark was believed to refer to Ben Bradshaw, the minister responsible for relations with Malaysia.

Dr Mahathir Mohamed said homosexuality was unacceptable in Malaysia, where Islam is the predominant religion. He said homosexuals were not fit to serve in the Malaysian government, and should not bring their "boyfriends" into the country. "The British people accept homosexual ministers but if they ever come here bringing their boyfriend along, we will throw them out," he said on Radio 4's Today programme.

Jack Straw said that he "strongly believes that people's private lives are private".

The comment raised the question of whether Mr Bradshaw will be able to visit the country, but the Foreign Office said ministers would not travel with their partners on official business. A Malaysian diplomatic source said that if Mr Bradshaw visited the country, even without his partner, there was "no way" the Prime Minister would meet him.