A Tory peer who claimed that “adoption by homosexual couples is unsatisfactory for the child” is wrong, said Britain’s leading gay equality organisation.

Lord Tebbit, a former Cabinet minister, spoke out after his party’s Shadow Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families said gay adoption was “moral and right.”

“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,” Lord Tebbit, who was Secretary of State for Employment under Margaret Thatcher, told the Daily Mail.

“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.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of Stonewall, welcomed Michael Gove’s speech yesterday, in which he said the Tory party “indulged prejudice in the Eighties” and backed “civil partnerships, proper inheritance rights and equality in adoption rights from gay couples.”

Mr Summerskill told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Lord Tebbit is simply wrong.

“There’s no credible evidence that children of lesbian and gay parents grow up in any developmental way – physical, intellectual or social – that’s different from other children.

“And given that three million children of heterosexuals are growing up in this country in single parent households it is odd that Lord Tebbit’s attention isn’t turned to them.

“Where lesbian and gay parents are adopting, they’re often bringing up severely disabled children.

“Those selfless parents should be being lionised, not demonised by Lord Tebbit.”

In June Julie Cooke, a trainer and consultant for the British Association for Adoption and Fostering, said that there is an unspoken policy of placing disabled children and children with learning disabilities with gay and lesbian carers, who are seen as being at the bottom of the list of prospective parents.

The Adoption and Children Act, which came into force in December 2005, gave gay couples and unmarried straight couples the right to jointly adopt children.

Lord Tebbit’s recent comments are by no means the first time he has expressed disapproval of equality for gay and lesbian people.

During a Lords debate on the Sexual Orientation Regulations in 2007 he argued that unlike regulations that protect a religion or a minority ethic group, the SORs seemed to be designed to protect sodomites.

Lord Tebbit rejected the comparison between discrimination against an ethnic minority and discrimination on the grounds of sexuality:

“I have to point out that “black” is about being. Sexual orientation is also about being. We would not wish to discriminate against people for being black or on grounds of their sexual orientation.

“The concerns being expressed this evening are primarily about sodomy rather than about sexual orientation-that is, doing not being.

“Is it not possible for such a person to hold the view that it is wrong for the state to compel him to refrain from arguing that sodomy is a social ill or to conscript him or his children into aiding and abetting it-if that is the right expression?”

Lord Tebbit opposed removing the responsibility entrusted to IVF clinics to consider the need for a father from legislation and replacing it with “supportive parenting.”

“A child’s life prospects are better if it grows up in a family, with a father and a mother, than if it lacks either of them. In general, these are indisputable facts,” he said.

He also opposed a new offence of incitement to hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.