Two of the Conservative’s most high profile representatives expressed surprise today that Tory leader David Cameron had previously voted against some aspects of gay rights, but said it shows how far the party has now moved.

Speaking at a fringe meeting of the party’s annual conference in Bournemouth arranged by gay charity Stonewall, Conservative Vice-Chairman Margot James and Arundel and South Downs MP Nick Herbert appeared unaware that Mr Cameron had once voted against allowing gay couples to adopt and repealing Section 28.

But addressing the meeting titled Gay People Under A Conservative Government, Mr Herbert said the Party has now apologised for its previous policies and praised the Conservatives for leading the way in the new Equality Act.

Mr Cameron’s previously poor voting record was produced by journalist Andrew Pierce who chaired the panel which also included Policy Exchange boss Nicholas Boles.

Ms James admitted she was surprised but said it was a sign of the party’s modernisation under the new leader and emphasised delight at how the party has come so far so fast.

Mr Cameron has since voted for civil partnerships and constantly includes the gay community in his statements about modernisation as seen in the names included on the Party’s A list.

Around 100 people attended the event at the Bournemouth International Centre and discussed issues such as homophobic bullying, gay rights in foreign countries and violent crime in general.

Ms James told PinkNews.co.uk: “It was a good meeting with a lot of issues raised. Such as how we deal with other minority groups such as religions and foreign countries where barbaric practices take place against the gay community.”

She paid particular tribute to one audience member who spoke about his experiences of being bullied.