British poll candidate barred over homophobic comments
Another candidate for Britain's May 6 general election has been suspended, this time for making a homophobic comment, the Conservative party said Tuesday.
Philip Lardner wrote on his website that "homosexuality is not 'normal behaviour'," under a section entitled: "What I believe in". The comments have since been removed.
The suspension of Lardner, who was running in the Labour stronghold of North Ayrshire and Arran, southwest Scotland, is the latest blow to Conservative leader David Cameron's efforts to present his party as gay-friendly.
Cameron's home affairs spokesman Chris Grayling suggested in comments which emerged this month that people of strong Christian faith who run bed and breakfasts should be able to turn gay guests away.
Grayling later apologised and there are reports he may not be made home secretary if the Conservatives win the election.
Some homosexual voters in Britain see the Tories as hostile to them, in part because under Margaret Thatcher, the party brought in a law banning local authorities from promoting homosexuality in 1988.
Cameron has since said this was wrong and asked gay people to forgive the party, while several of his closest political allies are gay.
But a poll published by gay newspaper Pink News this week suggested that only nine percent of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people were backing the Conservatives in the election, compared to 58 percent for the Liberal Democrats and 21 percent for Labour.
The chairman of the Conservative party in Scotland, Andrew Fulton, said Lardner's comments were "deeply offensive and unacceptable and as a result he has been suspended as a member of the Conservative party".
On Tuesday, a Labour candidate was suspended after boasting about his sex life online, while another Labour candidate was barred two weeks ago after foul-mouthed rants on micro-blogging site Twitter.
© 2010 AFP