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Baroness Warsi: ‘We were wrong on gay rights’

Human Rights minister says Conservative Party was 'on the wrong side of history' but now supports LGBT rights.

The minister responsible for human rights, Baroness Warsi, has admitted that she and her party were wrong about LGBT rights in the past but insisted that the Conservatives were now unequivocally in support of them.

The Foreign Office minister said she was "still on a personal journey" on gay marriage. She abstained on the issue in the House of Lords but said she supported the fact that the first same-sex marriages can now take place in April next year.


Baroness Warsi was speaking at a Kaleidoscope Trust lecture in London last night (Dec. 10). She said some people on social media sites had criticised her attendance because of an election leaflet in 2005 in which she said an equal age of consent allowed "schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships". 


She told the meeting: "There are those who said I should not come, or would not come, but I wanted to come and put on record that my leaflet in 2005 and my party's stance on LGBT rights were wrong, we were on the wrong side of history and we now have a commitment to supporting LGBT rights."


Ministers, including the Prime Minister, regularly raised gay rights with other government leaders, she said, as David Cameron had done recently with President Putin in Russia.


On equal marriage she said she still had reservations but supported the law now that it had been passed. "Every one of us is on a personal journey, everyone has had to make compromises between their different identities." She insisted that neither faith groups nor LGBT groups could have a veto on the issue.


Asked about the Human Rights Act, which some ministers including the Home Secretary Theresa May have criticised, Baroness Warsi appeared to defend it. She said human rights could not be disposable. "We should not take a harsh position on human rights domestically, and expect to take the moral high ground internationally."