Zac Goldsmith drops out of event for ‘anti-gay’ group

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

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Tory Mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith has dropped out of an event for a think tank whose chair was suspended from the Conservative Party over a homophobic rant.

The chair of the right-wing Bow Group, Benjamin Harris-Quinney, was suspended by the Conservative Party in May this year, after PinkNews published a recording of him delivering a homophobic speech at an anti-LGBT event in Moscow.

In the recording, he claimed “the LGBT lobby” has created a “climate of fear” – and aims to “reduce the age” that children receive sex education in order to “promote the homosexual lifestyle”.

Despite the controversy, and the group’s calls for Tories to ‘tactically’ vote for UKIP before the election earlier this year, Tory MP Zac Goldsmith was announced to speak at the group’s summer reception.

The group had been selling tickets to the event for £25 – including a keynote speech from Mr Goldsmith, the frontrunner for the Conservative nomination for Mayor of London.

However, the MP told PinkNews that he did not agree with Harris-Quinney’s views, had not agreed in full to the format, and would no longer attend the event.

Zac Goldsmith told PinkNews: “I absolutely disassociate myself with these ugly views and much else that the group stands for. But it has to be said that I speak to many organisations I don’t subscribe to and I never shy away from challenging them.

“On a separate note, this event was intended to be one of many where I could informally speak to Conservative Members about their and my priorities for London.

“Unfortunately the Bow Group has been selling the event as a keynote speech from me, which is not something I had ever agreed to do. I will therefore not be taking part.”