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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 February 2006, 09:59 GMT
Tories' gay stance 'was wrong'
Francis Maude
Mr Maude's 'beloved' brother died in 1993
The Thatcher government's failure to openly accept gay people was wrong, Conservative chairman Francis Maude, has told a gay news website.

Mr Maude, whose brother Charles died from the HIV virus in 1993, said the attitude prompted the "promiscuous" activity among homosexuals at the time.

He told the PinkNews.co.uk website he now regretted voting to ban councils from promoting homosexuality.

The Section 28 legislation, made law in the late 1980s, was repealed in 2003.

Mr Maude, MP for Horsham, said his decision was "in hindsight a mistake, I voted for it, I was a minister".

A lot of people like my brother would not have succumbed to HIV and lost their lives
Conservative chairman Francis Maude

He added: "We've been seen for a long time as a party which hasn't been very open to gay people. That's wrong."

Asked if it was morally wrong, he answered: "Yes, totally."

Mr Maude nursed his "wonderful, intelligent, beloved brother" Charles, who died in 1993. He said at the time his brother's sexuality never detracted from his love.

But he told the website the Thatcher government's attitude at the time had not helped the gay scene.

"The gay scene in London in the 1980s was quite aggressively promiscuous and I think if society generally and the government I served in had been more willing to recognise gay people then there would have been less of that problem."

'Not comfortable'

He added: "A lot of people like my brother would not have succumbed to HIV and lost their lives."

The former Treasury and Foreign Office minister also told the website: "I've been conscious that too many gay people who are conservative-leaning have not felt comfortable to support us."

Mr Maude said the decision in 2002 by Alan Duncan to become the first openly gay Tory MP was an important move for the party.

He said: "Being a Conservative MP was by then virtually the only work environment where there were no openly gay people represented."

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