Former Conservative minister Lord Tebbit has criticised the party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families for calling gay adoption “right and moral.”

Michael Gove gave strong backing to gay equality in a keynote speech to the Institute of Public Policy Research yesterday on the politics of relationships.

The Surrey Heath MP also said the Tories had “indulged in prejudice” against gay and lesbian people in the 1980s.

“I think that the Right was wrong to get hung up on homosexuality,” he said.

“I think we indulged prejudice in the eighties and missed the point. It’s not gay men who’re abusing women and abandoning children – its straight men.

“And the demand for civil partnerships, proper inheritance rights and equality in adoption rights from gay couples is not a rejection of commitment but a desire to see commitment celebrated and publicly embraced.

“It is right and moral.

“I also think the Right was wrong in its rhetoric about single mothers. We need to recognise that its those fathers who’ve abandoned their responsibilities, not mothers left holding the baby, who should be challenged about their behaviour.”

Lord Tebbit, a leading right winger in the 1980s who has been an outspoken opponent of equality, told the Daily Mail:

“Every statistic shows that children grow up more likely to do well in school, stay out of trouble, and have a happier life if they have both a male and female role model.

“Too often we look at these things from the point of view of the adult rather than the child. I think that adoption by homosexual couples is unsatisfactory for the child.

“What homosexual people choose to do under their duvets is up to them, but the example they set to children is of interest to society as a whole.”

Mr Gove, who is close friends with David Cameron and used to share a flat with two prominent gay Tories, Ivan Massow and Nick Boles.

In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk last year he said:

“I was part of a generation that at university it was natural and normal to have gay friends and I had friends, both gay men and lesbians, coming out at the time.

“Therefore I’m part of a generation that finds it difficult to understand many of the arguments that were being made by people older than us against equality.”

He has backed government guidance on homophobic bullying in schools.

“As society has grown up and become better able to deal with sexual diversity, there are still taboos to be tackled and difficulties that need to be dealt with when it comes to adolescent sexuality,” he told PinkNews.co.uk

“In particular I think it’s the case that society is still finding it difficult to work out how to deal with young people below the age of consent who are attempting to deal with a sexual orientation that is not the majority orientation. That requires some sensitive handling.

“You can’t pay attention to popular culture and what’s happened in the last ten years without being aware of a nasty edge to bullying and intimidation and sometimes it can have a homophobic element to it.”

Listen to Michael Gove’s speech to the IPPR here
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