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article imageTory gay group founder may vote Labour in UK election after slur

By Andrew John     Apr 9, 2010 in Politics
The founder of a British Tory Party gay group says she will be voting for Labour in the UK general election on May 6 after a perceived slur from her party’s shadow Home Secretary.
Anastasia Beaumont-Bott, the first chair of the LGBTory group, says Tory leader David Cameron has failed to reprimand his shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, after his comments on whether bed-and-breakfast establishments should be allowed to turn away same-sex couples.
The Independent quotes her as saying: “I feel guilty because as a gay woman affected by LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] rights I am on record saying you should vote Conservative, and I want to reverse that. I want to go on record to say don’t vote Conservative. I’d go as far to say that I’ll vote Labour at this general election.”
The latest row over gay rights erupted after Grayling, a Christian, said someone providing bed-and-breakfast accommodation in their own home should be allowed to use their consciences and turn away gay people.
It is against current law to turn people away from goods and services because of (among other things) their sexuality. Grayling has defended himself, saying that he would not like to see the current law repealed, and even voted in its favour, but he believes that Christians should be able to turn gay people away.
He was quoted in the Daily Telegraph at the time as saying: “I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”
The comments caused uproar among equality campaigners in the UK, and will have been an embarrassment to a party that has recently tried to court the pink vote.
Beaumont-Bott said she decided 18 months ago that she would leave the Tory Party after she encountered homophobia, but had decided not to speak out about the prejudice she was seeing. However, Grayling’s comments were the “last straw,” she said.
“It’s been in my head for a while to speak out, but the Chris Grayling issue has made me realise that a year and a half ago, I was someone who was standing up and telling gay people that they should vote for Mr Cameron. But I became disillusioned after meeting one too many people in that party who were not like what the leader was saying the party was about. If you make a comment like [Grayling’s], you should be out. This isn’t a question of party lines – it is disgusting. I don’t like doing this to Mr Cameron. I like him, but the insides of his party are not what the people are led to believe.”
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