Anti-gay rights councillor and Bow Group chair suspended by Conservatives
Anti-gay rights Tory councillor Benjamin Harris-Quinney has been suspended by the Conservative party. The decision comes after PinkNews published a recording of him delivering a speech against LGBT rights at an event in Moscow.
PinkNews reported yesterday that Mr Harris-Quinney, Councillor for East Herts District Council, and who is also the chair of Tory think tank the Bow Group, made the comments at a summit in Moscow which took place in September.
The speech was made at Church of Christ the Saviour as part of the ‘Large Family and Future of Humanity Forum’, which is listed as a hate event by the US-based Southern Poverty Law Center.
In the recording, he claims “the LGBT lobby” has created a “climate of fear”, and celebrates that a majority of Tory MPs voted against same-sex marriage. He also claims that Prime Minister David Cameron was “forced” to “endure the indignity” of relying on Members from other parties to pass the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill which legalised same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
A complaint has been made to the Conservative Party Chairman, believed to have been made by LBC Presenter Iain Dale, a long-time critic of Mr Harris-Quinney.
PinkNews understands that the complaint was concerned with Mr Harris-Quinney urging Conservatives to support UKIP and for his comments against the LGBT rights movement in Moscow.
As a result, the councillor’s party membership has been suspended.
A Conservative Spokesman told PinkNews: “Ben Harris-Quinney has been suspended from the Party with immediate effect pending an urgent investigation by the Disciplinary Committee on behalf of the Board. The investigation will also cover the circumstances in which he was able to rejoin his local Association on 5th May 2015 having ceased to be a member since April 2013, and stand as a council candidate on behalf of Party.”
Conservative blogger and broadcaster Iain Dale wrote on Conservative Home of Mr Harris-Quinney: “I feel a complaint to the Party’s ethics committee coming on…”
Despite claiming on the Daily Politics on May 5 that he was not a Conservative Party member, Mr Harris-Quinney yesterday told PinkNews he is.
It has been confirmed that he joined the party at local level, but is unclear whether he was a party member when he was elected as a Conservative councillor on 7 May.