Tory candidate Philip Lardner suspended over 'offensive' gay comments

Sunday 23 October 2011 07:39

A would-be Tory MP has been suspended for describing gay people as "not normal", it was disclosed today.

The comments made by Philip Lardner on his website were branded "deeply offensive and unacceptable" by a party spokeswoman.

Under the heading 'What I believe in', the North Ayrshire and Arran candidate had written: "Homosexuality is not 'normal behaviour'."

The seat is a Labour stronghold, where Katy Clark was returned with a majority of more than 11,000 at the last General Election.

The row over Mr Lardner will be embarrassing for David Cameron, who has been at great pains to stress the Conservatives' record on gay rights under his leadership.

Earlier this month the party was forced on to the back foot on the issue after shadow home secretary Chris Grayling suggested people who ran B&Bs should "have the right" to turn away gay couples.

On his website, Mr Lardner spelt out his support for the former Section 28, which was introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government and outlawed the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools.

Last year Mr Cameron apologised for Tory efforts to stop the measure being repealed by Labour.

But Mr Lardner wrote: "With experience as a teacher and a believer in parental rights and responsibilities, as your MP I will support the rights of parents and teachers to refuse to have their children taught that homosexuality is 'normal' behaviour or an equal lifestyle choice to traditional marriage.

"I will always support the rights of homosexuals to be treated within concepts of (common sense) equality and respect, and defend their rights to choose to live the way they want in private, but I will not accept that their behaviour is 'normal' or encourage children to indulge in it.

"The promotion of homosexuality by public bodies... was correctly outlawed by Mrs Thatcher's government. Toleration and understanding is one thing, but the state promotion of homosexuality is quite another."

The remarks have now been removed from Mr Lardner's website, but snapshots of the page have been widely circulated.

In a statement, the chairman of the Conservative Party in Scotland, Andrew Fulton, said: "The views expressed by Philip Lardner, the candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran, are deeply offensive and unacceptable and as a result he has been suspended as a member of the Conservative Party.

"We therefore do not support Mr Lardner's candidacy in the North Ayrshire and Arran constituency. These views have no place in the modern Conservative Party."

Labour's Europe minister Chris Bryant said: "These comments are completely unacceptable and betray the nasty, judgmental truth behind the Tory campaign."

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