In an exclusive interview with PinkNews.co.uk, leader of the House of Commons and minister for equality Harriet Harman has echoed gay Labour MPs’ views that the Conservative Party is homophobic.

Last night, openly gay ministers Ben Bradshaw and Chris Bryant attacked the opposition, with Bryant saying that gays who voted for the party would “rue the day very soon”.

Their comments came after Tory leader David Cameron repeated his regrets over Section 28, having said in 2005 he was “glad” it had gone. On Tuesday night, he told attendees at a private Pride party he was sorry for the legislation, which banned ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in schools.

In an interview with PinkNews.co.uk today, Harman said: “The essential heart of the Tories is homophobic. I don’t think anyone should be fooled by the apology, which is already 25 years too late. It is not the view of the Tory party. They have voted against the Equality Bill. If they were sincere, they would support it.”

This week, communities secretary John Denham appeared to criticise the Equality Bill, which Harman is pushing through parliament. Addressing the Fabian Society, he hinted the legislation could alienate the “middle group”, losing Labour votes.

Harman responded: “I think that John Denham has said he was misquoted about ‘middle Britain’. I think there is a great sense of fairness among the British people, whether you’re gay and middle class, straight and middle class, working class with a gay parent. The Equality Bill is a strong and important part of that fairness.”

When asked if Pride events were still necessary and relevant, she said: “Totally, absolutely.We still need to make more progress, there are still children in schools suffering homophobic bullying. Pride is really important to celebrate what we’ve achieved and to ensure we don’t slip back. The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.”