Liberal Democrat leadership frontrunner Tim Farron “misquoted” campaigner Peter Tatchell to justify his “anti-gay” voting record, Mr Tatchell has said.
On Sunday Mr Farron appeared on the BBC’s Sunday Politics programme and struggled to convincingly answer questions about why he voted against a number of measures to protect LGBT people from discrimination.
Explaining why he did not vote for a law to outlaw selective service provision for gay people he cited Mr Tatchell.
But appearing on the Daily Politics programme the next day, the campaigner said the potential Lib Dem leader had been mistaken.
“I supported the sexual orientation regulations which gave legal protection to gay people against discrimination. Tim Farron voted against [them],” he said.
“It’s not the first time he’s misquoted me in defence of his anti-gay voting record. Back in 2010 in the passage of the Equalities Act Tim Farron was against giving the same obligations to religious organisations as everyone else.
“He wanted religious exemptions from the Equality Act, I did not, yet his quoted me in supporting his position.”
Mr Tatchell said free speech, a cause cited by Mr Farron, was a “separate issue” from discrimination and that he had “very publicly” made his position known.
“Free speech is a separate [issue] and maybe Tim just got confused about different laws and legislations,” he said.
“But there’s no doubt he voted against anti discrimination laws to protect LGBT people in 2007 and he wanted religious exemptions under the quality act 2010. I did not support either of those positions and I said so very publicly.”
Mr Farron issued a statement of apology for his comments on Sunday.
“I do apologise without reservation if I have misremembered Peter Tatchell’s position. But to be clear I do believe that if you provide a service it must be offered on an equal basis. If this comes against I will vote accordingly,” he said.
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
What does five more years of the Tories mean for Britain?
1/8 Welfare payments will be slashed
One of the most controversial parts of the Conservative manifesto was to cut benefits for the working age poor by £12 bn over the next three years. But during the campaign they only said where £2 bn of these savings would come from. That leaves £10 bn still to find. Some experts think the only way they can close that gap is by means testing child benefit – with millions of families losing out
2/8 There will be tax cuts for those in work and those who die
The Tories will increase the threshold at which the 40p rate of tax becomes payable to £50,000 by 2020. They haven’t said so but it is also likely that at some point in the next five years they will abolish that 45p rate of tax altogether for the highest earners. They also want to increase the effective inheritance tax threshold for married couples and civil partners to £1m
3/8 There will be an in/out EU referendum in 2017
The next two years are going to be dominated by the prospect of a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. First off David Cameron has the daunting task of negotiating a deal with other EU leaders an acceptable deal that he can sell to his party so he can go into the referendum campaigning for a ‘yes’ vote. This may be unachievable and it is possible that the Tories may end up arguing to leave. Opinion polls show Britain is divided on EU membership, one poll this year showed 51% said they would opt to leave compared to 49% who would vote to stay in
4/8 There will be more privatisation of the NHS
Having won the election the Tories now have a mandate to go further and faster reforming the NHS. In order to make cost savings there is likely to be greater private involvement in running services, while some smaller hospitals may lose services they currently provide like A&E and maternity units
5/8 There will be many more free schools – and traditional state schools will become a thing of the past
The Tories plans to create 500 new free schools and make 3,000 state schools become academies. They will also carry on reforming the Department of Education and remove more powers from local authorities over how schools are run
6/8 On shore wind farms will be a thing of the past and fracking will be the future
Government spending on renewable energy is under real threat now the Lib Dems are no longer in power with the Tories. Subsidies are likely to be slashed for off-shore wind farm and other green energy supplies. Meanwhile there will be generous tax break for fracking as ministers try and incentivise the industry to drill for onshore oil and gas
7/8 There maybe more free childcare – but not necessarily
In the campaign the Tories pledged to double the amount of free early education for three- and four-year-olds from 15 hours a week to 30. The extra hours would only be offered to working families where parents are employed for at least eight hours a week. However they have not said where the money will come from to fund the pledge
8/8 Workers' rights could be reduced
The Tories want to slash business regulation, merge regulator and cut costs. The Lib Dems stopped them from reducing the employment rights of workers in power – but these are now under threat
The leadership hopeful had also said he voted against the rules because they did not go far enough to protect transgender people.
Mr Tatchell accepted Mr Farron’s apology but added: “He abstained from one of the key votes on same-sex marriage as well. It doesn’t look good – for him to now be portraying himself who has long supported gay rights I think that’s a distortion.
“People have a right to hold religious beliefs but I don’t think they should be translated into discriminatory laws. That’s what Tim Farron did.”
Mr Farron is one of two contenders for the Liberal Democrat leadership, the other being former coalition minister Norman Lamb.Reuse content