David Cameron says he sacked homophobic candidate ‘within minutes’
Conservative Party leader David Cameron said he took the decision to sack a homophobic Scottish candidate “within minutes” of finding out about his views after PinkNews.co.uk informed the Conservative Party of the offensive views on the candidate’s website.
Philip Lardner, the candidate for North Ayrshire and Arran, was suspended from the party yesterday after PinkNews.co.uk reported that his website contained offensive comments about homosexuality.
Mr Cameron said yesterday while campaigning that he had taken action against Mr Lardner “within minutes”.
He said: “I think people in the gay community know it is easier for people who are Conservative and gay to vote Conservative than at any time before.
“The Conservative Party has been on a journey. Has it been far enough and fast enough? Perhaps not, but it’s gone further than many other parties around the world.”
Mr Cameron has been criticised by Labour for “failing” to take action against two senior party members who made comments about homosexuality during the election campaign.
Mr Lardner, a primary school teacher, had written on his campaign website: “I will always support the rights of homosexuals to be treated within concepts of (common-sense) equality and respect, and defend their rights to choose to live the way they want in private, but I will not accept that their behaviour is ‘normal’ or encourage children to indulge in it.”
He also said that Section 28, which outlawed the “promotion” of homosexuality in schools, was correct, and said that “most people” believe homosexuality is “somewhere between ‘unfortunate’ and simply ‘wrong’.”
Mr Lardner’s name will remain on ballot papers as it is too late to withdraw them. The Conservative Party will not be fielding another candidate in the Labour safe seat.
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In the last month, Mr Cameron has been criticised by Labour for “failing” to take action against members of his party who have been accused of making anti-gay statements.
Last month, shadow home secretary Chris Grayling was recorded saying he agreed bed and breakfast owners should have the right to bar gay couples if they wish.
He later apologised and said he believed it would be “wrong” for gay couples to be turned away from businesses.
Meanwhile, PinkNews.co.uk revealed last week that Julian Lewis, the incumbent MP for New Forest East and shadow defence minister, told a constituent that he was against equalising the age of consent for gay men as he believes gay sex carries a high risk of AIDS.
A PinkNews.co.uk poll carried out last week suggested that support for the Conservatives among the LGBT community had dropped in the last year.
It found 58 per cent of almost 1,000 LGBT voters said they intend to vote Liberal Democrat next week, compared with 21 per cent for Labour and just nine per cent for the Tories.
More: General Election 2010