No females on the front line, and no gays if forces don't want them

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Indy Politics

The next Tory Government will repeal legislation allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military if armed forces chiefs say the reform has affected operational effectiveness. Iain Duncan Smith, the shadow defence secretary, will tell the conference today that the party will not tolerate "political correctness" in military matters and will counter European rules on defence.

The next Tory Government will repeal legislation allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the military if armed forces chiefs say the reform has affected operational effectiveness. Iain Duncan Smith, the shadow defence secretary, will tell the conference today that the party will not tolerate "political correctness" in military matters and will counter European rules on defence.

In his setpiece speech, Mr Duncan Smith will also give a sharp rebuff to suggestions yesterday by Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, that the Army will soon have to allow women to fight in the infantry.

Mr Hoon, who lifted the ban on gays and lesbians in the armed forces, said that he was becoming increasingly convinced women wanted to be combat soldiers and should be allowed to do so. But Mr Duncan Smith will make clear today that such a move would be unwelcome, as would challenges to officers from subordinates under the Human Rights Act.

Crucially, he will harden significantly the Tory line on gays in the military and promise to review the position as soon as he took office. If the armed forces heads wanted the amended sections of the Armed Forces Act on homosexual membership repealed, a Conservative Government would follow their advice. "We are very concerned that the effectiveness of the armed forces is being undermined by political correctness," said a senior Tory source.

"Our only aim is to have a professional fighting force for this country. The suggestion of women on the front line is PC gone mad. The most professional fighting force in the world, the Israeli army, has had to repeal rules on women in combat because it didn't work."

Such a move will prove popular with many on the party's backbenches as well as activists, but represents a shift from Mr Duncan Smith's approach during the passage of the Act last year.

Mr Duncan Smith will ridicule suggestions that the Human Rights Act could be used by junior members of the ranks to lodge law suits if their civil liberties are infringed by such things as impromptu inspections and disciplining.

The source added: "From the top to the bottom, the military is not happy with political agendas affecting what they do. Our armed forces want the right people, the right kit and the right backing from politicians. At the moment, they aren't being allowed to conduct their jobs properly."

Mr Hoon said yesterday:"Women are already serving in frontline jobs in the armed forces, with artillery units, as fighter pilots and in warships, which means they are just as likely to be in a position to kill people in combat as men are. That would be the same if they had an infantry role."

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