‘Gay rights’ would be entrenched and moved forward under any future Conservative Government, a Tory Shadow Cabinet member has said.
Speaking to a libertarian think-tank in the USA, Nick Herbert, who is openly gay, said that he backed gay couples adopting children.
Mr Herbert said that there has been a “definite change” in the Tory party’s attitude to homosexuals, The Daily Telegraph reported.
Conservative Party insiders say the Tories are sympathetic to churches who want to offer same-sex ‘marriages’, according to the Telegraph.
According to a written copy of his speech, Mr Herbert said: “I appreciate the view held by some, on a strict reading of their faith, that marriage is a unique arrangement which is only available to a man and a woman.
“And we should never dictate to religious organisations who are doing no harm that they should, in their own rites or places of worship, depart from their sincerely-held beliefs.
“But in the UK, we created in law a civil union for heterosexual couples, specifically devoid of any religious ceremony and significance for those who do not wish to marry in church.
“So what religious grounds could there be for opposing the extension of a secular institution to gay couples through the introduction of civil partnerships in 2005?”
In his comments at the Cato Institute, according to the written speech, he said: “For the modern Conservative Party, embracing gay equality is neither a temporary phenomenon, nor an agenda which can be reversed.”
He then added: “If we form the next Government, we intend to entrench the progress made on gay equality, and to move the agenda forward.
“If there is a need for new laws, we will consider them.”
Mr Herbert also commented: “We should not seek to prevent adoption by same-sex couples who may offer a love and stability that is absent from too many homes.”
Plans to allow civil partnerships to take place in churches have recently been championed by gay groups.
In November Ben Summerskill, head of gay lobby group Stonewall, said: “Right now, faiths shouldn’t be forced to hold civil partnerships, although in ten or 20 years, that may change.”
Mr Herbert’s comments are the latest in an ongoing attempt by the Conservative Party to appeal to homosexual voters.
Earlier this year David Cameron, Tory party leader, said school children should be taught that homosexual civil partnerships are just as valuable as marriage.
He has also recently said in an interview with a gay lifestyle magazine that the Church of England should recognise “full equality” for homosexuals.
Back in October the Conservative Party’s held its first official ‘gay pride’ party at its Manchester conference.
It included “posters of semi-naked men and buckets of condoms on the tables” according to a Times journalist’s report at the time.