Tim Farron has been attacked for suggesting that gay people are sinners.
The Liberal Democrat leader has been pitching his party as the natural place for people who want to oppose Brexit, arguing that his is the only party offering a home to remain voters. But much attention has been turned to his views on the LGBT community, which have been the subject of much concern in recent years.
That came to a head once again when Mr Farron was interviewed on Channel 4 News and refused to deny that he thought that homosexuality is a sin. He said that he would not “make theological announcements”.
Comedian David Baddiel said that people who claimed Tim Farron is talking the most sense had to face up to the fact that “he’s a fundamentalist Christian homophobe”. Activist Owen Jones branded the comments “an absolute disgrace”.
The interview followed a 2015 interview with the same channel and journalist, Cathy Newman. At that time, Mr Farron said that “we’re all sinners” and refused to answer the question, and he appeared to stick by those comments in the new interview.
Pressed on the matter in Parliament, Mr Farron finally said that he did not think homosexuality was a sin and that he backed equality and more rights for LGBT people.
It also followed a tweet sent from his account in 2015 that seemed to suggest that people were becoming gay because of chemicals in the water, and comparing LGBT people to “fish and frogs”. In response to a post sent by the British Humanist Association that expressed concern that health workers think homosexuality is curable, Mr Farron’s account seemed to agree that it was.
“They [gay people] can be [cured],” the post read. “Most sexual disorientation is caused by chemical leaching… check out the fish and frogs”.
The Lib Dem leader later apologised for “any offence caused” by the tweet, and called it “fake and malicious”.
Supporters of Mr Farron argued that people should focus on Mr Farron’s own voting and policy record as Lib Dem leader.
He has released statements and lobbied on a range of issues, including concentration camps for gay people in Chechnya, transgender equality and the blanket ban on blood donation that excludes any man who has had sex with men from donating.
He has a mixed record on voting for same-sex marriage and equality legislation. But he has said that people may have been given “the wrong impression” and argued that when he voted against a law that legalised same-sex marriage he was doing so to get more time to discuss trans issues.
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