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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Tory walks out in gay row
David Davies AM
David Davies protests that he must be able to express his views
A Conservative Welsh assembly member has walked out of a meeting at Cardiff Bay after a minister told him his comments on gay issues were offensive.

David Davies spoke out against gay adoption and school material on homosexuality.

The Monmouth AM left the equal opportunities committee meeting, protesting at "a total waste of time".

Mr Davies upset other AMs and members of Stonewall Cymru when the gay rights group discussed its annual report with the committee.

Both Mr Davies and the Labour committee chair said they needed to speak to the assembly's presiding officer over the row.

We are a bit surprised that you are trying to woo the gay vote on Monday and come Thursday we get a completely different opinion
Tammy Speers, Stonewall
He said it would be wrong for children to see books produced by health authorities which "graphically described sexual acts of a nature which I never imagined."

He also asked: "I wonder why you feel a homosexual who is attacked has more rights in the eyes of the law than an elderly lady or an elderly man?"

But Tammy Speers of Stonewall said: "I just want to express my surprise that I've just heard what I heard at the equal opportunities meeting."

Ms Speers also said his comments contrasted with the stand of Conservative leader Michael Howard on gay issues, three days after the Tories held an event for gay groups.

"We are a bit surprised that you are trying to woo the gay vote on Monday and come Thursday we get a completely different opinion in a back room."

Derek Walker, also from Stonewall, said his organisation was merely asking for such hate crimes to be treated as seriously as those which were racially motivated.

If I can't get my opinion out, there is no real point my being there
David Davies

Social Justice Minister Edwina Hart said Mr Davies' comments were "absolutely offensive", and that point Mr Davies got up and left, saying: "I'm one person in here, I accept that, but it's a total waste of time."

Mrs Hart accused him of a "temper tantrum", and Plaid Cymru AM Helen Mary Jones said his actions were aggressive and threatening.

Ms Jones called for the committee to write to the Conservative group over the "appalling treatment" of Stonewall.

Committee chair Gwenda Thomas said she would have adjourned the meeting if Mr Davies' behaviour had continued. She is seeking advice from Presiding Officer Dafydd Elis Thomas.

Later, Mr Davies said he had already written to Lord Elis Thomas, arguing that he must be able to express his opinions and to put difficult questions to publicly-funded organisations on behalf of the taxpayers he represents.

He said after the meeting: "The questions, I didn't think, were that unreasonable. It became quite clear I wouldn't be able to get my opinion out.

"They were trying to shut me up. If I can't get my opinion out, there is no real point my being there."

Mr Davies has been selected by the Conservatives to fight the parliamentary seat of Monmouth at the next general election.


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