A leading member of the ChristenUnie party, the third group in the Dutch ruling coalition, has demanded that practising homosexuals should be expelled from administrative positions in the party.

Yvette Lont, councillor for Amsterdam South-East, announced that she would be proposing a motion for the exclusion of practising homosexuals from senior party and government posts at the forthcoming party congress on November 17, according to Dutch newspaper Trouw.

Ms Lont’s proposal has led to a heated discussion in the party, which is committed to ‘Christian’ social and political principles.

The ChristenUnie entered into coalition with the right-of-centre CDA (Christian Democratic Appeal) and the left-of-centre Labour party, PvdA, after elections held last year.

She represents Amsterdam South-East, also known as the Bijlmer, an area notorious in Netherlands’ society for its rampant crime rate, serious drugs problem and recurrent violence.

It is a predominantly ethnic area almost entirely populated by Surinamers and Nigerians, many of whom are active Christian evangelicals traditionally opposed to any deviation from heterosexual ‘family values.’

According to ANP, ChristenUnie party leader André Rouvoet, who is a vice-premier in the ruling coalition, has issued a statement declaring that his party had no intention of removing practising homosexuals from prominent positions in the government; but he refused to say whether he believed a practising homosexual should or should not be a government minister.

Under pressure from ChristenUnie party bosses Ms Lont has agreed, for the moment, to shelve her motion while the party engages in a discussion of the issue, according to DutchNews.nl.

Jan Peter Balkenende, the Dutch premier, refused to be drawn on the matter, saying it was for the ChristenUnie to resolve at their congress.

Previously considered a gay-friendly haven, the Netherlands has in recent years experienced a series of violent attacks on gay people, including tourists, in the centre of Amsterdam.

In one widely-publicised incident last year the editor of a leading US gay paper was attacked in the downtown area of the city, which is now being seen as an increasingly unsafe and inhospitable destination for LGBT visitors.