Maude insists the Tories are tolerant of homosexuality

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Indy Politics

Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude today dismissed claims that the Conservative Party was intolerant of homosexuals as "nonsense".

Shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude today dismissed claims that the Conservative Party was intolerant of homosexuals as "nonsense".

He said there would "always" be gays among the Tory membership and spoke of the loss of his homosexual brother from Aids.

He was responding to claims of bigotry in the Party by businessman and former Tory supporter Ivan Massow, who defected to Labour over the issue.

Mr Massow said that as a gay man he could not continue to be a Conservative: "Under William the sad truth is that the Tories have become less compassionate, more intolerant and frankly just plain nasty."

Mr Maude said in a television interview: "I think this is all a lot of nonsense. I'm not prepared to be accused of being homophobic or intolerant.

"I had a brother who was gay whom I loved dearly, who died of Aids.

"And the idea that we are not all decent or tolerant of people of a different sexual orientation and people who are gay is total nonsense."

Mr Maude, a party moderate, said: "There have always been people who are gay in the Conservative Party and there always will be and I don't see why people get so excited about it."

Last year Mr Massow, who is chairman of the Institute for Contemporary Arts, was mentioned as a possible Tory party candidate for Mayor of London, but he eventually threw his support behind Stephen Norris.

Mr Maude played down the impact of his defection and his parting comments. The Tory frontbencher said: "I'm sorry if he feels like that.

"I only met him once briefly in a corridor in the House of Commons, so I can't really comment on him."

He added: "The idea that he was in the centre of the Conservative Party was obviously a nonsense.

"But people come and people go and that is just part of life in any political party."

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