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Nigel Farage defends 'gay conversion' endorsement from Brexit Party's Ann Widdecombe

'I think these things are a matter of conscience,' says Brexit Party leader

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 04 June 2019 12:09 BST
Nigel Farage responds to Ann Widdecombe's remarks that science may 'provide an answer' to homosexuality

Nigel Farage has defended one of his party's MEPs after she was accused of "poisonous bigotry" for suggesting science may one day "produce an answer" to homosexuality.

The Brexit Party leader insisted the view was a "matter of conscience" after Ann Widdecombe, who was elected to serve in the European parliament just last week, appeared to endorse the widely-discredited gay "conversion therapy".

Pressed on the remarks, Mr Farage told ITV's Good Morning Britain: "Science may provide all sorts of answers that you and I don't know about – Anne Widdecombe is a devout Christian, and there is nothing wrong with that in my opinion."

"She will have views on abortion and on homosexuality that will be very different to the views that will be held by many others," he added.

"I think these things are a matter of conscience, I don't think they are matters for party leaders to support or condemn individuals because they have strong views."

Mr Farage faced the questions after Ms Widdecombe was widely-condemned at the weekend for an appearance on Sky News. The Brexit Party MEP was quizzed on an article she wrote about gay conversion therapy in 2012.

Last year, Theresa May vowed to eradicate the "abhorrent" practice of the therapy and the cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt described it as an "abuse of the worst kind".

But Ms Widdecombe claimed that the possibility of changing sexuality should not be ruled out in the future, and compared it changing gender identity. "There was a time when we thought it was quite impossible for men to become women and visa-versa," she said.

"The fact that we think it is not quite impossible for people to switch sexuality doesn't mean that science might not be able to produce an answer at some stage."

She continued: "You are denying people who are confused about their sexuality or discontented with it, the chance that you do give to people that want to change gender. "

The remarks were criticised by politicians from all sides of the Commons, including the former Tory cabinet minister Justine Greening who said: "We don't need a cure for love."

Labour MP Luke Pollard, whose Plymouth constituency is part of the southwest area represented by Ms Widdecombe in Europe, said the MEP was “continuing her sick anti-LGBTcampaign”.

He tweeted: “Utterly ashamed to be represented by this vile woman. Being gay isn’t a disease to be cured.”

Independent MP Nick Boles tweeted: “If only science could produce an answer to the blight of poisonous bigotry that is Ann Widdecombe.”

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