Tories face 'outing' by militant group

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Gay militants plan to "out" Conservative MPs and senior party officials in protest at William Hague's "anti-gay" agenda.

Gay militants plan to "out" Conservative MPs and senior party officials in protest at William Hague's "anti-gay" agenda.

The newly formed pressure group, Tories Against Hypocrisy, will launch a website this week in an attempt to "root out homophobia and hypocrisy" inside the Conservative party.

Campaigners, angry that senior Tories will not flinch from opposition to laws promoting homosexual equality, have resorted to extreme measures because they believe their pleas for change have been ignored.

The Tory leader will be hoping to capitalise on what has been a testing week for the Government and to reap the benefits of the dent which the fuel crisis has made in Tony Blair's opinion poll ratings. But any allegations against senior Tories could prove damaging and a distraction from policy so close to the Conservatives' annual conference.

A spokesman for Tories Against Hypocrisy, who did not wish to be identified, said frustration at official Conservative policy on gay rights had left the group - made up of around a dozen Tories, some with prominent positions in the party - with no choice other than to "out" people they claim are "secret gays".

"We are doing it for the sake of the party," the spokesman said. "We have been discussing our concerns with many in the Tory party over the past month in an attempt to try to change their stance and it simply hasn't worked, and we have got to the stage where we feel enough is enough."

The group, like others in the Conservative party, is furious that the party had opposed an end to the ban on homosexuals in the armed forces; many had not backed the equalisation of the age of consent and have spoken out against partnership rights for same sex couples and have backed the retention of Section 28.

In a statement Tories Against Hypocrisy claimed: "Backing for legal discrimination against homosexuals is endorsed by virtually the entire Conservative leadership, including leading party officials and MPs who are themselves secretly gay."

The campaigners have vowed to act, despite warnings that they are being "disloyal" to the Tory party. But, operating only by e-mail, many are terrified that "reactionaries" in the party will ensure that they are discredited or will damage their careers if their identities are uncovered.

But, despite their motives, any attempts to "out" senior Tories and to highlight a "shift to the right" led by the party leadership will play into the hands of Labour, which is determined to depict the Conservatives as extremists.

Marc Cranfield-Adams of the Conservative gay rights campaign group Torch said: "It has never been our policy to "out" people. We have gone to great lengths to make that clear." Conservative Central Office declined to comment.

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