New Tory shadow minister’s previous opposition to gay equality
The much-publicised appointment of a Muslim woman to the Tory Shadow Cabinet could harm relations between the party and the gay community.
Sayeeda Warsi, the new Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion, hit the headlines during the 2005 election campaign for distributing campaign leaflets with a strongly hostile attitude to gay rights.
Mrs Warsi, who will be appointed to the House of Lords in order to take her place on the Conservative front bench, ran for the Dewsbury seat in 2005.
She was the first ever Muslim woman to run as a parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party.
Her opponent in Dewsbury, Shahid Malik, is also a Muslim.
He was recently was appointed a junior minister in the Department for International Aid and Development by Gordon Brown.
The 2005 campaign saw both candidates court the 20% of voters in the constituency who are Muslim.
Mrs Warsi’s campaign leaflet attacked the government’s gay rights agenda.
“Labour has scrapped section 28 which was introduced by the Conservatives to stop schools promoting alternative sexual lifestyles such as homosexuality to children as young as seven years old,” it said.
“Schools are allowed and do promote homosexuality and other alternative sexual lifestyles to your children.
“Labour reduced the age of consent for homosexuality from 18 to 16 allowing school children to be propositioned for homosexual relationships.”
Mrs Warsi pledged to campaign strongly for an end to sex education at seven years and the “promotion” of homosexuality, which she said “undermines family life.”
Mr Malik went on to win the seat with a majority of 4,615.
Her views run contrary to the image of the Tory party as gay-friendly that David Cameron is keen to promote.
A Conservative party spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk:
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“The leaflet that you are referring to does not properly represent her views – she has not got a problem with gay adoption, for example.
“Sayeeda does have a problem with sex education, of any orientation, being compulsory in schools.
“She thinks it is up to the parents to decide if and what their children are taught and when.”
Mr Cameron appointed two gay men to his Shadow Cabinet earlier this week.
Nick Herbert, the MP for Arundel and South Downs, was appointed shadow Secretary of State for Justice.
Alan Duncan was reappointed to the shadow Cabinet as Shadow Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform.