Lord of the Rings actor, Sir Ian McKellen, has said that a government tip-off told him that the controversial Section 28 was “a bit of red meat” for the right.

In an interview with Owen Jones, the 76-year-old actor said that Margaret Thatcher had taken the action during the height of the AIDS crisis to pacify some of the more extreme factions of the party.

Coming out in a radio interview in 1988 because of the Conservative policy, he said that one of the party whips at the time explained the reason for the ban.

Quoting the unnamed MP, he said: “That’s a bit of red meat thrown to the right wing wolves by Mrs Thatcher. If you’re going to stop it in future you’ve got to organise, you’ve got to be ready for it when it happens.

“Start a gay lobby.”

The X Men star went on to help found Stonewall, one of the UK’s biggest LGBT charities, and revealed that it was one of Thatcher’s last acts as Prime Minister to give him a knighthood.

When discussing Section 28 directly, he said: “You can’t promote sexuality. You can talk about it, you can’t recommend it.

“I was recommended heterosexuality all my life, I’m still gay, and I think the reverse is probably true.”

He added that he was still angry about society’s treatment of gay people and said he thought it was best for everyone to be honest about their sexuality.

“Have you ever met anybody who came out, and was honest about their sexuality and regretted it?” he said.

“It is astonishing. It is totally positive. It is totally for the good of yourself, your friends, your family and society.”

Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988 which banned the promotion of a homosexual lifestyle was repealed in Scotland in 2000 and England and Wales in 2003.