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New Forest Conservative MP Julian Lewis wins backing from UKIPs Peter Day
10:41am Friday 23rd April 2010 in News
A SENIOR Tory candidate slammed for speaking out against equality for gay teens has won the backing of a political rival in the New Forest.
Conservative high command distanced itself from its defence spokesman, Dr Julian Lewis, after he expressed opposition to the reduction of the gay age of consent from 18 to 16.
In a letter to a constituent, Dr Lewis compared the health risk of HIV infection from male homosexual activity to the danger of serving in a frontline position in the military, and said that 16-year-olds should be protected from both.
But while his remarks were widely condemned amid calls for David Cameron to sack him, UK Independence Party candidate Peter Day welcomed his views.
Mr Day said: “I agree with what he said and for the reasons he said it. I don’t really see it’s a problem. If Cameron wants to get rid of him, we would welcome him with open arms.”
In his letter, Dr Lewis wrote: “I was strongly against lowering the age of consent from 18 to 16. My reasoning was that there is a seriously increased risk of HIV infection arising from male homosexual activity.
“When it comes to legalising practices that involve serious physical risk, I believe the higher limit should apply. This is the reason why we no longer allow 16 and 17-year-olds into frontline situations in the Armed Forces, for example.”
They will undoubtedly cause a lot of concern and a lot of offence to a number of his constituents.
“In theses circumstances David Cameron should ask him to stand down as a candidate. His views are not conducive with today’s society.”
Green candidate Beverley Golden added: “Julian Lewis is showing his true colours. The Green Party and I are totally against discrimintaion of any sort.”
“Young people are educated enough to know the dangers of sex and serving in the forces.”
Labour Home Secretary Alan Johnson yesterday challenged Mr Cameron to sack Dr Lewis from his frontbench team.
And Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay campaign group Stonewall, said: “Many lesbian and gay people will be disturbed to hear a frontbench spokesperson expressing such views.”
The Conservative Party’s central office described the terms in which Dr Lewis had put his views as “wrong”
but stressed they were his “personal views”.
Dr Lewis said yesterday: “This is desperate stuff from the Labour Party, given that they know perfectly well that on a free vote I chose to support the Civil Partnerships Bill on two separate occasions. Anyone reading my letter with an open mind can see that I am taking a reasoned and balanced view of these sensitive issues.”
His comments came shortly after a controversy sparked by shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling’s suggestion in a private meeting that he personally backed the right of B&B operators to refuse to allow gay couples to stay in their establishments.
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