Perhaps this was why David Cameron, leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, was so intent on keeping offline his fumbling over the Tories’ suspected homophobia: Because there’s some deep-seated homophobia in the Conservative Party. Chris Grayling (pictured), a leading Tory party member as the shadow home secretary, finds his remarks about how those Christian owners of the bed and breakfast should be allowed to discriminate against gay customers.
The comments, made by Grayling last week to a leading centre-right thinktank, drew an angry response from gay groups and other parties, which said they were evidence that senior figures in David Cameron’s party still tolerate prejudice. In a recording of the meeting of the Centre for Policy Studies, obtained by the Observer, Grayling makes clear he has always believed that those who run B&Bs should be free to turn away guests. “I think we need to allow people to have their own consciences,” he said. “I personally always took the view that, if you look at the case of should a Christian hotel owner have the right to exclude a gay couple from a hotel, I took the view that if it’s a question of somebody who’s doing a B&B in their own home, that individual should have the right to decide who does and who doesn’t come into their own home.”
He draws a distinction, however, with hotels, which he says should admit gay couples. “If they are running a hotel on the high street, I really don’t think that it is right in this day and age that a gay couple should walk into a hotel and be turned away because they are a gay couple, and I think that is where the dividing line comes.”
For what it’s worth, Grayling voted in favor of 2007’s Equality Act, which prohibits exactly this sort of business dealing.
So does one lawmaker’s tolerance of anti-gay business brand an entire party as homophobic? That’s the wrong question — since the entire party is already suffering from that reputation.