Gay rights groups expressed outrage this week over the ‘gay spin’ they say the Republican leadership has put on the Mark Foley email scandal involving underage Congressional pages, emphasising that the ex-congressman’s actions had nothing to do with sexual orientation.

“It is completely unacceptable, regardless of party or sexual orientation, for an adult to engage in this kind of behaviour with a minor,” said Joe Solomonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender political organisation.

“The American people deserve leaders who confront problems and take responsibility, not leaders who excuse their corruption by trying to pin it on others.”

During an interview with FOX News, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich defended the Republican cover-up by stating, “I think, had they overly aggressively reacted to the initial round, they would have also been accused of gay bashing.”

In an email alert to members, Family Research Council President Tony Perkins wrote, “[The House GOP leadership] discounted or downplayed earlier reports concerning Foley’s behaviour – probably because they did not want to appear ‘homophobic’. The Foley scandal shows what happens when political correctness is put ahead of protecting children.”

The National Youth Advocacy Coalition, a national nonprofit organisation committed to protecting and fighting for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning young people, expressed shock over the “appalling-and potentially criminal-conduct exhibited by a sitting member of the House of Representatives.”

“Gay or straight, Congressman Mark Foley’s behaviour is like that of a predator who should be arrested and prosecuted for his criminal behaviour, and those around him who knew, and did not act to stop him, are just as guilty.”

Michael Albetta, president of the Florida LGBT Democratic Caucus, told the South Florida Sun-Sentinal this is a case of a powerful person abusing his position.

“This does not relate to being gay,” Albetta said. “A paedophile is a paedophile whether you’re gay or straight. So he’s gay. So what?”

Meanwhile US President George W Bush has expressed disgust at the scandal, he said: “I was dismayed and shocked to learn about Congressman Foley’s unacceptable behaviour.

“I was disgusted by the revelation, and disappointed that he would violate the trust of the citizens who placed him in office.”

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