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Video: David Miliband welcomes former Tories who have quit party over gay rights

PinkNews Staff Writer April 14, 2010
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At a Labour party event today, Foreign Secretary David Miliband was joined by two former Conservative party activists who quit the party over its treatment of gay rights and the apparent support by Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling for bed and breakfast owners to ban gay couples. David Miliband said: “The Tory head and the Tory heart are at odds. The head tells them that the world has changed, that they have been rejected at three elections because they were seen as the nasty party. The heart tells them something different.”

Anastasia Beaumont-Bott who helped set-up the Conservative’s gay wing, LGBTory said: “The voice of the gay people of this country will not go away.

“Mr Cameron! Change we can believe in? We shouldn’t have to believe in your party changing, because actions should speak louder than words and we should just be able to look at your party and know whether you’ve changed or not.

“As a now ex-conservative politician, needless to say, I wasn’t convinced. And with your recent manifesto launch, I am still not convinced.

“There is not one mention of new gay rights in that document.

“Mr Cameron, you have not only lost my vote. You have lost my respect.

“And I know, I’m not the only one out there who is asking themselves “have the Conservatives really changed?”

“The answer, is no.

“On 6 May, I will be voting for Labour. Because I shouldn’t have to believe in change, I should see change and I want to be part of achieving it.”

David Cameron writing for at the weekend announced a policy to erase the criminal records of all those convicted of gay sex offences that are no longer illegal and adopt a “zero tolerance” approach to homophobic bullying in schools. But neither policies were included in the Conservative manifesto, Peter Tatchell branded the policies as an “after thought.”

Beaumont-Bott, 20, who was a Conservative party member for three years and headed the party’s lesbian and gay group for two years, said that as a teenage victim of homophobic bullying she wasn’t prepared to be pushed around again.

David Heathcote said he’s supported the Conservatives for 20 years but felt “tremendously let down” by the apparent support by the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling for bed and breakfast owners to ban gay couples.

“The man who aspires to hold the great office of Home Secretary advocates it is acceptable to select the laws by which we abide according to our religious beliefs,” Mr Heathcote said.

“I think that is dangerous for our society. How can you create the ‘Big Society’ by discriminating against parts of it?”

Mr Heathcote added: “Under David Cameron’s leadership I had felt able to persuade gay people and others who had no trust in the Conservatives that the party had changed and was ready to represent them,”. “How wrong I was.”

“While Mr Cameron may have this vision, his party seems unwilling to move with him from their old values to those of a party to represent a modern, fair and equal Britain.”

“I have removed my blue-tinted glasses and looked seriously at other parties and I’m very proud to have decided to join the Labour Party.”

The Conservative party declined to speak to this afternoon.

Last week, Matthew Sephton, Chairman of LGBT Tory said: “Anastasia Beaumont Bott went as quickly as she appeared both in Conservative politics and LGBT activism. Sadly, she left the Conservative LGBT organisation weaker rather than stronger having done nothing of note to advance the LGBT agenda, either within or outside the Conservative Party.

“I think it’s a great shame that many years after the event she has decided to raise allegations, if only she’d raised them at the time they could have been investigated and action taken. There is no tolerance of homophobia in the modern Conservative Party and I great strides forward have been made since her time.

“LGBTory became the group it now is from July 2009 when a strong and dedicated group of individuals came together from different parts of the country to pursue the aim of creating a successful Conservative LGBT group –for Conservatives and for the LGBT community. LGBTory now has hundreds of supporters and numerous branches up and down the country and is working with more than two dozen LGBT Prospective Conservative MPs to bring about the change this country so desperately needs.”

Today the Liberal Democrats became the first of the political parties to launch a dedicated LGBT manifesto. The Labour party will launch their campaign in the LGBT community tomorrow in Soho.

Related topics: General Election 2010

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