OutRage!, the gay rights action group, has urged LGBT people and their friends to vote in the elections on 3rd May to defeat the BNP.

Elections will be held for the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and for various councils across England.

The BNP is openly homophobic, racist and Islamophobic, but claim they merely represent the views of British working-class white people.

Regarded as no more than a extreme minority group a decade ago, the BNP took their first three seats on Burnley council in 2002.

They went on to play on working class resentments about immigration and lack of social housing to win 52 seats on 13 councils in 2006.

In Barking and Dagenham, east London, the party is the official opposition with 12 councillors. They are fielding 665 candidates in the 2007 elections.

“Recent election results indicate the BNP could make an electoral breakthrough,” said Brett Lock of OutRage!

“Under the proportional representation voting system for the Scottish and Welsh elections minor parties like the BNP can win seats.

“There is a possibility that the BNP may, for the first time, secure representation in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly.”

OutRage! says gay voters should be aware that a high turnout will reduce the BNP’s share of the vote and lessen its chances of winning seats.

Nick Griffin, the party leader, is standing for election to the Welsh Assembly.

He is credited with turning the fortunes of the BNP round by “softening” the party’s image and creating a more media-friendly party organisation.

The BNP has in recent times emphasised the issues that concern voters and played down its extreme racist and homophobia.

They recently tried to align themselves with Christians who object to new laws protecting gay people from discrimination.

The BNP fought previous general elections on a pledge to outlaw homosexuality and has described AIDS as “nature taking revenge” on gay men.

Soon after the neo-Nazi bombing of a gay bar in Soho, London, in 1999, which killed three people and maimed dozens more, party leader Nick Griffin attacked lesbian and gay people for “flaunting their perversion” and said this showed why “so many

ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive.”

He claims the BNP speaks for “the majority of the population” who, he says, believe

“homosexuality is wrong” and that it “needs to be pushed humanely but firmly back into the closet”.

Mr Griffin warns that if gays continue to “press their aims further” there will be an “almighty backlash” which will result in the imprisonment of all homosexuals.

“Lesbians and gay men can help block the election of candidates from the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and homophobic British National Party (BNP). Make sure you and your straight friends vote on 3 May,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!