Eric Pickles: I was ‘narrow-minded’ to oppose gay adoption

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Conservative Cabinet Minister Eric Pickles has apologised for his record on gay rights – branding his previous views “narrow-minded” and “prejudiced”.

Mr Pickles, who is Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, previously voted against an equal age of consent and same-sex adoption, while missing the vote on civil partnerships.

He eventually voted in favour of same-sex marriage in 2013, and has since affirmed his commitment to equality.

Speaking to LBC, he apologised for his poor track record on the issue.

He said: “I have to say, a few years back I had a different view, absolutely. I originally voted against gay adoption, I think I voted against gay marriage some time back.

Pushed on what triggered his decision to support same-sex marriage, Mr Pickles replied: “Well, to tell you the truth, simply friends – going to people’s houses, seeing a stable couple together. Seeing constituents who’d wanted to have a proper legally recognised relationship.

“And I just thought, ‘you just can’t be so mean, you can’t be so narrow-minded, you can’t be so prejudiced.’ So I did a complete, 180 degrees and I’ve never regretted it.”

In the same interview, the MP for Brentwood and Ongar said he opposed a boycott of Dolce & Gabbana, after the legendary gay designers spoke out to oppose ‘non-traditional’ families.

Mr Pickles said: “The world’s too small. You can’t replace one piece of hate with another piece of hate.”

Calls by Sir Elton John for a boycott of Dolce and Gabbana have quickly gathered pace, with support from celebrities including Matt Lucas, Sharon Stone and Courtney Love.

Victoria Beckham, a close friend of Sir Elton John and David Furnish, also tweeted her “love” for IVF babies.

But a few celebrities, most notably former Mirror editor Piers Morgan and ex-Apprentice contestant Katie Hopkins have criticised the boycott, describing it as “bullying” and threatening freedom of expression.

Dolce and Gabbana have defended their comments – with Domenico Dolce insisting that he does not judge those for starting a family in a “non-traditional way”.

In 2006, Stefano Gabbana told Vanity Fair that he had asked a female friend to carry his child via artificial insemination.