Baroness Young, the former Conservative cabinet minister and a vociferous campaigner against gay adoption and the abolition of Section 28, has died at the age of 75.
Lady Young, who was Leader of the House of Lords under Margaret Thatcher, died at her home in Oxford yesterday after a long illness.
Most recently, she led opposition to the Adoption and Children Bill, which would allow unmarried couples, straight or gay, to adopt.
The daughter of an Oxford don, Lady Young was best known as a campaigner for traditional "family values". She emerged as a fierce opponent of the John Major government's highly contentious "no-fault" divorce legislation and was a leading voice in the campaign against abolishing Section 28 and lowering the homosexual age of consent.
She came a life peer in 1971 and was the first woman to lead the Conservatives in the Lords. Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative leader, said: "I have always had huge admiration for Janet's courage, conviction and tenacity. She was a principled campaigner in the Lords and in the wider country, tirelessly fighting for the causes in which she believed.
"In an age when style so often seems to come before substance, Janet Young epitomised the timeless value of staying true to one's own personal beliefs."
Baroness Thatcher said: "Janet Young was not only a good friend but she was one of the most courageous and effective woman politicians of her generation. She devoted her whole life to public service, and public life is diminished by her loss."
Lord McNally, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats in the Lords, said: "Her strong views on personal morality often brought her into conflict with those of a different outlook. But no one ever doubted either the strength of her convictions or the integrity with which she held them."
The gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said she had "poisoned society with prejudice and intolerance". He said: "Future historians will rank her alongside the defenders of apartheid. She supported homophobic discrimination to the last."
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