Sir Alan Duncan defends Tory MP who warned of ‘aggressive homosexuals’

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Former International Development minister Sir Alan Duncan has laughed off Tory MP Sir Gerald Howarth’s infamous rant about “the aggressive homosexual community” by saying “that’s very Gerald”.

Sir Gerald, a former defence minister, made the remarks in 2013 during a Commons debate on the same-sex marriage act.

Margot James, the first out lesbian Tory MP to be elected said gay rights legislation had necessarily “levelled the playing field” to ensure “outrageous verbal aggression” directed at gay people would stop.

In response, Sir Gerald said: “I warn her, I fear the playing field is not being levelled I believe the pendulum is swinging so far the other way, and there are plenty in the aggressive homosexual community who see this as but a stepping stone to something even further.”

The MP did not make clear what that further step would be.

In an interview this week with Mehdi Hasan, the political director of the UK’s Huffington Post, Sir Alan Duncan was asked if the “Tory Taliban” had been “defeated?”

Sir Alan had used the phrase in 2005 to describe the party’s “moralising wing”.

“I don’t think your question is accurate,” Sir Alan said with a laugh to Hassan. “The Tory Taliban quip referred to those who sort of huffed and puffed at anyone who was gay… that’s changed.”

Asked about defections to UKIP over the issue of same-sex marriage and Sir Gerald’s “aggressive homosexual” outburst, Sir Alan laughed: “I think he was referring to the manner of some of the campaigning in its favour. That’s very Gerald… I don’t think one should characterise him in that mould, really.”

Sir Alan went on to say: “A lot of these attitudes have changed. We are not at odds with what are current social attitudes amongst young people on matters of sexuality.

“Everyone is now at ease. It’s a great tribute that we have been able to go down this path over what has been a 15-year period started by Tony Blair.

“It is a not a world whose attitudes were anything like the ones that existed when I entered Parliament in 1992.”

Sir Alan became the first Tory MP to come out as gay in 2002.

He believes the party has now “smashed a glass ceiling” for gay parliamentary representation. “I think to be the first meant that quietly a lot was achieved on the back of it. It’s utterly immaterial,” Sir Alan added.

Sir Alan was asked why there is not a single openly gay cabinet minister in the government, he replied with a laugh: “I don’t know … Maybe I wasn’t good enough”.