Hazel Blears has accused the Conservative Party of being “riddled with homophobia.”
The candidate for Deputy Leader of the Labour Party slammed Tory homophobes after a survey revealed that one third of Conservative Party activists would not attend a Civil Partnership ceremony – even if invited by a friend.
Ms Blears said: “This is astonishing. One third of Conservatives would snub a friend’s invitation to a Civil Partnership, and the only possible explanation is homophobia.
“David Cameron has failed to change the Tory Party. Underneath the gloss, is the same old right-wing Tory Party which brought in Section 28.”
The survey was carried out by ConservativeHome, an unofficial right-wing website for Conservative grassroots activists.
Ms Blear’s criticisms were seconded by Cllr Mark Bennett, equalities campaigner with the Labour Campaign for Lesbian and Gay Rights, who said:
“This survey shows the core of prejudice at the heart of Cameron’s Conservatives.
“Labour equality activists from the BME and LGBT communities have maintained that divisive Tory attitudes are alive and as insidious as ever, and here is the proof.
“It seems that David Cameron has so far managed to chloroform dissent within his ranks, but it is now reviving.
“The findings of this survey will come as a shock to many people. They prove that only Labour has the commitment and the support from within to promote equality, whilst the Tories remain as entrenched in their attitudes as ever.
“They still have a long distance to travel from lip service to genuine belief.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson said in response:
“Hazel Blears refers to an online survey conducted by the website Conservatives Home. This is not a survey of Conservative Party members.
“In an online survey of this kind the scientific validity is questionable and there is no evidence that respondents were Conservative Party members.
“It is quite possible the survey was hijacked by Labour Party activists in an effort to discredit the Conservative Party. The survey in no way reflects Conservative Party policy or opinion.
“Hazel Blears demeans herself by using this website to attack the Conservative Party. It is ridiculous and shows why Hazel Blears is not up to the job of being Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.”
The Labour Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights, also known as LGBT Labour, today teamed up with Stonewall to ask Ms Blears questions on LGBT rights.
Ms Blears explained what she would do to further LGBT rights if she were elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.
She said: “As Deputy Leader I want to be the Minster for Delivery – making sure the manifesto on which you and I campaigned is implemented. An important outstanding issue is the Single Equalities legislation that I would make sure is complete by the following general Election.
“I support making “inciting homophobic hate” a criminal offence, I think this will strengthen the package of issues that the Government are seeking to address in the Criminal Justice Bill already and will make a difference to the quality of LGBT people’s lives.
“We need more specialist prosecutors within the criminal justice system to enforce laws which protect LGBT people from homophobic violence and abuse.
She stressed: “We need a much higher conviction rate.”
In an exclusive interview with PinkNews.co.uk earlier this week, Ms Blears confessed her worries about an resurgent Conservative Party.
She said: “I am not complacent about David Cameron. I think that for the first time in 20 years you have got a Tory party that is resurgent, it no longer embarrassing to be a Tory and I take them very seriously.”
Ms Blears described herself as “Mrs Pritchard with politics.”