Peer who said schools ‘promote homosexuality’ becomes first female Muslim cabinet member

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Sayeeda Warsi has been announced as the Conservative Party’s chairman, becoming part of the cabinet.

She is the first Muslim woman to hold such a powerful position.

Baroness Warsi was born in Yorkshire to Pakistani parents. She is a trained solicitor and was appointed shadow minister for community cohesion by David Cameron in 2007.

She has been a controversial figure in the past. In 2005, when she unsuccessfully stood as the Tory candidate for Dewsbury, she issued leaflets which used homophobic language.

Her leaflets claimed children were being “propositioned” for gay relationships.

They said: “Labour has scrapped Section 28, which was introduced by the Conservatives to stop schools promoting alternative sexual lifestyles such as homosexuality to children as young as seven years old.

“Labour reduced the age of consent for homosexuality from 18 to 16, allowing schoolchildren to be propositioned for homosexual relationships.”

Baroness Warsi was criticised by gay rights charity Stonewall who called her “homophobic”. She later said she regretted the language used.

She said in 2007: “I look back at lots of my election leaflets and think, ‘God – why did I phrase it like that? What was I on?'”

Appearing on Question Time with BNP leader Nick Griffin last year, she said that gay people “absolutely have the right” to have civil partnerships.