Ukip is a “cult” that is “too willing to entertain bigots,” according to the former chair of the party’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group.
Tom Booker, who set up the LGBT three years ago, said Nigel Farage used the group purely as a public relations stunt to shield the party against accusations of homophobia.
He described Ukip conferences and events as a place where supporters went to worship their leader, where there was “no room for criticism” but “a lot to criticise”.
The 24-year-old law graduate quit the party in February, saying Ukip had failed to “set a gay-friendly tone”.
After countless episodes of countering claims the party was homophobic, he said he “simply couldn’t defend the party any more”.
The final straw came when the Christian Soldiers, a group affiliated with Ukip, distributed leaflets describing Manchester’s Gay Pride march as an “annual parade of depravity” and a “display of wickedness”.
Mr Booker knew enough was enough when Ukip failed to break its ties with the group.
“They seem to be too willing to entertain the more bigoted elements within the party,” he told BuzzFeed News. “They don’t want to say anything for fear of losing votes. If the Christian Soldiers had put out leaflets of a white supremacist nature, I have no doubt they would have got rid of the members. There’s an attitude of, ‘Oh, if it’s homophobia it’s a lesser crime.’
“The fact that the party couldn’t be bothered to act when it came to Christian Soldiers and what they were putting out was the point at which I said, ‘This group I’ve set up, they’re just using it as a defence.’ And it was done in Nigel’s piece in The Independent, saying, ‘I’m glad to hear we’ve got an LGBT UKIP society; we’re very inclusive,’ when he’s never spoken to us. We were good PR for them.
Mr Booker added: “UKIP has become like a cult. Look at the support base who fawn over Farage. Any criticism is either labelled as ‘media bias’ or ‘loony-lefty nonsense’. There seems to be no room for criticism, and there is a lot to criticise. Look at conference, how they will jump onto their feet and give lengthy rounds of applause for 15 minutes just because he walks on stage.
Comments Mr Farage made about banning HIV positive immigrants from entering Britain made Mr Booker certain he had made the right decision to quit.
“It was completely ignorant of people with HIV and the medical advances made,” Booker said. “If he says that about people from other countries who’ve got HIV, what about people he wants to represent in this country who have HIV? It’s rhetoric like that that will set back advancement and changing perceptions of people with HIV by 20 years.
“The party never admitted it was wrong on same-sex marriage policy,” he said. “There was no apology for the HIV comments.”
Mr Booker had tried to confront the candidates in the party who had expressed homophobic views.
Under his stewardship, the LGBT group wrote an open letter to David Silvester, the Ukip councillor for Henley upon Thames who claimed the floods that hit Britain a year ago was due to the government legalising same sex marriage.Reuse content