Ann Widdecombe attacks Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for supporting LGBT+ rights

'My doubts had grown when reports appeared in the press about how she and Harry were going to champion the rights of the LGBT community,' says former Conservative MP 

Maya Oppenheim
Friday 27 April 2018 08:26 BST
Ann Widdicombe says Meghan Markle is 'trouble'

Former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe has attacked Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for saying they want to prioritise LGBT+ rights.

The royal couple, who are due to marry on 19 May at Windsor Castle, have said they will put LGBT+ rights at the forefront of their royal duties.

Speaking to young LGBT+ people at the Commonwealth Youth Forum in London earlier in the month, Ms Markle said these issues are about “basic human rights” and it is important to challenge inequality founded on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Same sex activity is criminalised in 36 of the 53 Commonwealth member states.

But Ms Widdecombe, who is known for her socially conservative views, has suggested Prince William and Ms Markle should not use their platform to champion the rights of the LGBT+ community.

“I may have my doubts about Meghan Markle but on Saturday she cheered me up so much that I actually clapped,” the 70-year-old wrote in her column for the Daily Express.

“Earlier that week my doubts had grown when reports appeared in the press about how she and Harry were going to champion the rights of the LGBT community.

“First, royals don’t champion ‘rights’: they champion plights. That is what Diana did with victims of Aids and landmines and very effective she was too,” the former politician continued. “Rights are the business of politicians and pressure groups and never more so than when they are controversial.”

“Second, what a week for any royal to join in the argument when the Commonwealth conference was in full swing, the position of Prince Charles as its future head was in delicate negotiation and some of its bishops were voicing concern about their countries being pressurised by Theresa May on the issue of LGBT rights. So nought out of 10 for both phraseology and timing.”

Widdecombe’s column comes after she branded Ms Markle “trouble” back in January – saying the actor’s background and attitude made her “uneasy”.

Ann Widdicombe says Meghan Markle is 'trouble'

Ms Widdecombe made the remarks in the Celebrity Big Brother house, which were broadcast after Ms Markle and Harry wowed crowds on a trip to Brixton.

The former prisons minister, who has been a controversial figure for many years, made the remarks to fellow housemate Rachel Johnson and others, while having make-up applied by Made In Chelsea star Ashley James.

Ms Widdecombe said: “I think she’s trouble. Background, attitude ... I worry. I add it all up and I’m uneasy but there we go.”

Ms Markle, who rose to fame for playing ambitious paralegal Rachel Zane on Suits, had earlier chatted, joked and even hugged young presenters from a youth radio station in Brixton, south London.

The couple visited Reprezent FM to learn more about the work of the not-for-profit broadcaster that trains the presenters, producers and station managers of tomorrow.

Ms Widdecombe, who was pro-Brexit, has previously spoken negatively about reality TV stars but has also appeared on Strictly Come Dancing – taking part in the 2010 series and coming sixth. The politician expressed her long-held views against LGBT+ rights to gay housemates while on Celebrity Big Brother.

While working as an MP, Ms Widdecombe was known for staunchly opposing the legality of abortion, her opposition to various issues surrounding LGBT+ rights, and her support for reintroducing the death penalty. During her political career, she did not once vote in favour of gay rights – opposing significant acts of legislation like civil partnerships, repealing Section 28, the Equality Act, reducing the age of consent for homosexual sex, and gay couples adopting.

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