PinkNews.co.uk Exclusive

Conservative Party chairman Francis Maude has welcomed a poll by PinkNews.co.uk which reveals a growth in support for the

Conservatives amongst the gay community.

A poll of 600 readers, selected to be demographically representative of LGBT people in England, showed a 10.2% increase in support for the Conservatives since 2005.

Mr Maude told PinkNews.co.uk, “David Cameron has said he wants the Conservative Party to be a voice for hope, for optimism and for change. This means we have to be a fully inclusive Party.

“A Party for everyone, regardless of race, gender or sexuality.”

However, he warned there is still more work to be done, “I very much welcome the increase in support for the Conservatives, but the figures show there is still clearly more to do.

“I note that 46% of the LGBT community still believe that the Conservative Party is homophobic. If people saw what Conservatives are doing in practice I think that might change.

“If they saw what Conservative-controlled Barnet Council has done, for example, by way of introducing policies to tackle homophobic bullying in the playground and in the workplace, they would see a Conservative Party increasingly aware of the problems and determined to tackle them.”

In 2005, 42% of the gay community voted for the Labour party (declared votes of those interviewed) whilst 31.1% voted Liberal Democrat with just 19.2% voting Conservative.

The poll of 600 LGBT readers who had already declared that they intend to vote in the upcoming local council elections saw a decrease in support for Labour of 4.5%.

Although still ahead with 37.5% of the LGBT vote, the Conservatives

with 29.7% have edged ahead of the Liberal Democrats who are supported by 27.3% of the gay community.

In particular, 41% of all LGBT voters agreed with the statement, “the election of David Cameron over David Davis made me see the Conservatives in a more positive light.”

77% believed that interviews given by the Conservative party chairman, Francis Maude to PinkNews.co.uk and other gay media outlets improved their perception of the party.

Asked if the Conservatives were still homophobic, 46% agreed. Of these respondents, just 6% blamed the attitude of the party’s leadership, whereas 32% blamed Tory backbenchers in both houses of Parliament with 61% blaming homophobia on the party’s grass roots.

Separately, the respondents were asked to quantify the level of change in respect of gay rights in Britain since 1997. None claimed that there had been no change, 50% believed that the country has changed radically, 32% considerably and 18% marginally.

Commenting on the poll, the editor of PinkNews.co.uk, Benjamin Cohen said: “The fact that the Conservatives have moved from third to second place in support amongst the LGBT community shows that the party has started to move in a more liberal direction since the election of David Cameron.

“However, the fact that 46% of our community still believe that the party is homophobic, must be a wakeup call to Mr Cameron and his chairman Francis Maude to engage even more with LGBT voters.

“If Mr Cameron and Mr Maude succeed in changing the attitudes of their backbenchers and grass root supporters, then LGBT voters will be able to chose between the parties on the basis of their economic policies rather than on fundamental human rights issues such as the status of gay people within our diverse society.”