Theresa May explains why she has changed her mind on allowing gay couples to adopt children
New equalities minister Theresa May said she had "changed my mind" about gay couples adopting children.
Mrs May was challenged about her voting record on gay rights on BBC One's Question Time.
She voted against gay adoption in 2002 and against the repeal of Section 28 - the law which banned councils from "promoting" homosexuality - in 2000.
But she said the votes were "some years ago" and if held again she would vote differently.
Mrs May, who was made minister for women and equalities - as well as home secretary - in the new coalition government cabinet, has faced some criticism over her voting record.
A Facebook group was set up calling for her to be sacked and attracted thousands of backers who questioned her suitability for the role of equalities minister.
During an appearance on Question Time, she was challenged about her record on voting against gay adoption, and missed votes on the Gender Recognition Bill - which gave transsexual people legal recognition in their acquired gender.
Challenged by an audience member, Mrs May said: "If those votes were today, yes, I have changed my view and I think I would take a different vote."
She added: "On gay adoption I have changed my mind... because I have been persuaded that when you are looking at the future for a child, I think it's better for a child who is perhaps in an institutional environment, if they have an opportunity of being in a stable, family environment - be that a heterosexual couple or a gay couple - then I think it's more important that that child is in that stable and loving environment and I have genuinely changed my mind on that."
Mrs May, who voted in favour of civil partnerships in 2004, also said the Conservatives had pledged to look at the "very real issue" of homophobic bullying in schools and consider whether asylum decisions should take into account people's sexuality if that put them in danger in some countries.
Labour former minister Caroline Flint, a fellow guest on the programme, said: "I'm pleased Theresa's changed her mind and we should accept when people change their mind and welcome that."
But she said she was "very proud" of Labour's record on gay rights and that the party had started a debate when the issue was unpopular, with little support from the Conservative front bench.