Exeter MP Ben Bradshaw
EXETER MP Ben Bradshaw says there remains a "deep strain of homophobia" in the Conservatives.
Speaking ahead of London's Gay Pride march, the Culture Secretary argued that the Conservative party has failed to move on from its past, and that party leader David Cameron "talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk".
Mr Bradshaw, one of three openly gay men in the Cabinet, made the comments as a new poll suggested more gay people were turning to the Tories.
His comments were backed by Chris Bryant, another gay minister, who said: "If gays vote Tory they will rue the day very soon."
The Conservatives have reacted angrily to the accusations of homophobia.
Opposition frontbencher Alan Duncan said their comments showed Labour was "actually the nasty party".
Conservative leader David Cameron recently assured the gay community that his party had learned its lesson since passing anti-gay legislation such as Section 28.
Mr Cameron also said he regretted having voted to uphold the law as recently as 2003. But Mr Bradshaw said: "I hope that people in the lesbian, gay and transgender community will closely examine the Conservatives' record on this and David Cameron's record in particular, which is not good. A deep strain of homophobia still exists on the Conservative benches."
Mr Duncan, one of two openly gay Tory frontbenchers, said: "This is the last gasp of Labour's desperation.
"Bradshaw and Bryant are simply trying to stir up hatred and division from the last century and it's both unwarranted and unworthy. "
Labour's performance among the gay community is worrying party strategists, who feel it is not reaping the rewards of 10 years of equality legislation.
New research for Jake, a company which specialises in professional networking for gay people, found the Tories outperforming Labour by 38 per cent to 20 per cent, with the Lib Dems in second place. The Tory vote was one per cent higher than the national average.