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Sunday, 8 October, 2000, 09:28 GMT 10:28 UK
Widdecombe: Gay lifestyle 'not equal'
Shadow home secretary Miss Widdecombe
Miss Widdecombe wants a preferred model
Gay lifestyles do not have "equal validity" with heterosexual relationships, shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe has told a Scottish newspaper.

Miss Widdecombe told Scotland on Sunday that homosexual relationships were not equal to the "preferred model" of marriage.

Earlier this week shadow chancellor Michael Portillo called for the Conservatives to accept gays in their ranks.

But in an interview with the paper, Miss Widdecombe said she did not understand what Mr Portillo's "social tolerance" meant.

As long as you have a preferred model then you can't afford things equal validity

Ann Widdecombe, shadow home secretary
"I don't understand this phrase," she said.

"We have always been a tolerant party.

"But if that means we are tolerating anti-social behaviour or making all forms of lifestyle equal and not having a preferred model, then we have never been that sort of party and we don't propose to be that sort of party."

However, Miss Widdecombe did attempt to minimise differences between herself and Mr Portillo.

She said their vision of Britain were not "radically different".

"If Michael's vision of Britain was so radically different from mine then I would have a problem," she said.

Preferred model

"But there are differences of emphasis - I would not go back to the days when homosexuality was illegal or when you stamped 'illegitimate' all over a baby's head if it was born out of wedlock, but I do want a preferred model and that is the issue.

"And as long as you have a preferred model then you can't afford things equal validity."

Miss Widdecombe later said: "That has so long been my position that I am amazed it is still worth reporting."

The comments came as the controversy continued over Miss Widdecombe's proposals for a "zero tolerance" policy on drugs - including plans for a compulsory fine for cannabis users.

The Mail on Sunday reported that seven members of the shadow cabinet had admitted taking illegal drugs in their youth, including shadow foreign secretary Francis Maude and Lords leader Lord Strathclyde.

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See also:

07 Oct 00 | UK Politics
Senior Tories admit drug use
03 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Portillo's symbolic speech
05 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Tory drugs row continues
05 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Widdecombe stands by drugs policy
04 Oct 00 | Conservatives
Tories get tough on drugs
24 Jan 00 | UK Politics
Senior Lib Dem tried cannabis
16 Jan 00 | UK Politics
I smoked cannabis, admits Mowlam
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