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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 February 2006, 22:52 GMT
'Anti-gay' row Tory stands down
John Jenkins
John Jenkins was to stand against Labour AM Christine Gwyther
A Conservative candidate for the 2007 assembly elections who once said gays had a "medical mental condition" has quit, a day after being selected.

John Jenkins, 25, blamed "speculation" about the comments on a website three years ago for his decision to resign "in the interests of the party".

He was to stand in Carmarthen West and Pembrokeshire South next year.

But his selection prompted attacks from Labour and Plaid Cymru who had said his views were "odious" and "abhorrent".

Mr Jenkins had not been available for comment following his appointment at a Tory meeting in Narberth, west Wales, on Wednesday evening.

John understands that it is not acceptable to hold such views and very much regrets having made them
Earlier Conservative statement

In a statement, the full-time councillor for Carmarthenshire council's Elli ward had said he was "very pleased and humbled" to be picked to challenge Labour former rural affairs minister Christine Gwyther, who has a 515 majority.

Welsh Tories issued a statement saying he regretted the "naive and childish" remarks he had made on a website in 2003, when he was standing for the Llanelli seat in the Welsh assembly.

It said Mr Jenkins was committed to the party's policy of promoting "equality and tolerance" and that he wished "to put the events of three years ago behind him".

But, within hours, the deputy chair of mid and west Wales Conservatives had quit for the second time as an assembly candidate, still denying that the views of the website three years ago were his own.

Marriage

In a statement, the party said: "John Jenkins does not accept that views on homosexuality on a website three years ago were his and believes that these views are totally unacceptable in politics.

Nick Bourne
In 2003, Tory leader Nick Bourne condemned Mr Jenkins' comments

"Following continued speculation, he has, however, decided to resign as the candidate in [the 2007 assembly] elections in the best interests of the Conservative Party."

Mr Jenkins resigned in 2003 after comments on the website in which he said he was homophobic and that he considered homosexuality to be a "medical mental condition".

He went on to say he thought marriage was "an act between a man and a woman" and that "gays cannot get married".

At the time, Welsh Conservative leader Nick Bourne condemned Mr Jenkins' views as completely unacceptable.

On Thursday, opposition parties criticised Welsh Tories for Mr Jenkins' selection.

'Repulsed'

Christine Gwyther said: "John Jenkins made his odious views known at the last assembly election and in the process exposed all that is bad about the Tories.

"For him now to show up as the Tory candidate in a key seat is a farce and hugely damaging to any claims the Tories make about representing everyone in society.

"This is not simply insulting to the gay community but also to all sensible, decent people, who are repulsed by this form of extremist politics."

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood, said: "Perhaps this is what the Tories mean by an 'A list' of candidates - abusive and abhorrent.

"I am very surprised he has been selected. It smacks of desperation.

"If he was deselected in 2003, then I cannot believe he can be reselected in 2006."

A Tory spokesman had previously said Mr Jenkins had represented his constituents well since being elected to Carmarthenshire council.

He said the party would reselect a candidate for the assembly constituency in due course.




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