12/12/2013 10:05 GMT

Baroness Warsi: I Was On The 'Wrong Side Of History' On Gay Rights

Chris Radburn/PA Wire
Baroness Warsi during a reception to mark the 50th anniversary of the Disasters Emergency Council held at Lancaster House in central London.

Baroness Warsi has conceded she had been on the "wrong side of history” in the past when it came to gay rights.

The Foreign Office minister and former Conservative Party chairman also defended her decision to abstain on the vote to allow gay marriage.

In 2005, when she unsuccessfully contested Dewsbury at the general election, Warsi issued campaign leaflets that defended the anti-gay Section 28 law and attacked Labour for equalising the age of consent.

The Tory peer later said she regretted the leaflets. And speaking at BNP Paribas event for the Kaleidoscope Trust charity on Tuesday, Warsi said both she and the Conservative Party had been wrong to oppose gay rights legislation in the past.

“There are those who said that I should not come here tonight," Pink News reports she said. "There are those who said that, having been invited, I would not come here tonight, but I did come, and I wanted to come, and it was the right thing to do, because I wanted to first of all put on record what I have said on many occasions and that is that my leaflet in 2005 and my party’s stance in the past was wrong. We were late in coming to this agenda and we were on the wrong side of history."

Pressed on her decision to abstain on the gay marriage vote earlier this year, Warsi said she was "still on a journey" on the issue and would not say she supported gay couples being able to wed simply to please the audience.

"I could give you an answer which I think would keep the crowd happy – that would be the wrong answer to give you," she said.

Warsi said she had not voted against the government's gay marriage bill as she believed it would have been wrong, as an unelected peer, to oppose a measure passed by the elected Commons.

This week the government announced the first gay weddings would be able to take place from 29 March, 2014. The day after Warsi's birthday.