As a gay Christian, I find Tim Farron's stance frustrating – but I don't think it should stop people voting for him

The future of LGBT rights – both the ones we’ve won and the ones we’ve yet to gain – are at stake with Brexit, and I’m going to take my allies where I can get them. Whether Tim Farron believes gay sex is a sin is irrelevant to me as long as he’s voting for equality and keeping us in the EU

Skylar Baker-Jordan
Wednesday 19 April 2017 14:16 BST
Comments
Tim Farron was asked three times today if he thought gay sex was a sin
Tim Farron was asked three times today if he thought gay sex was a sin

In a conversation yesterday, a Liberal Democrat mate of mine told me that LGBT issues wouldn’t be at the forefront of the upcoming general election, to which Tim Farron may as well have answered, “Hold my beer.” Yesterday, Channel 4’s Cathy Newman asked the Lib Dem leader – again – if he thinks gay sex is sinful. His mealy-mouthed response (that he’s not a theologian, that everyone is equal, that the Lib Dems stand for equal rights, that he won’t be drawn into discussions about religion) was perhaps even worse than the one who gave when previously asked the same question: “We’re all sinners.”

As a gay Christian, I find this frustrating, because the answer is very simply: “No, gay sex, and by extension gay love, is not sinful.” Farron’s reluctance to give a straightforward answer is infuriating. Then again, Tim Farron isn’t standing to be Pope, but an MP (and I guess Prime Minister too, though let’s not kid ourselves). If his religion stays out of his politics, which it largely does, it shouldn’t matter what he believes in church, only how he votes in the chamber.

Farron’s record is mixed, I admit. Despite reports to the contrary, Farron did in the end vote to equalise marriage for same-sex couples, telling the Guardian in 2015 that while he had supported a couple of amendments offering religious exemptions to registrars who didn’t want to marry gay couples, “I definitely regret it, if people have misread that and think that means I’m lukewarm on equal marriage.” Given the choice again, he wouldn’t have abstained because of those amendments.

OK, that’s sorted. Tim Farron doesn’t hate gay people. He’s not homophobic. He supports equality.

Tim Farron refuses to say if he believes homosexuality is a sin

Now let’s focus, because the stakes are too high for us to nitpick over what Farron thinks about my sex life. The fact of the matter is that, regardless of what my Lib Dem friend thought, LGBT issues are going to be at the forefront of this election, because this is the Brexit election. And Brexit is an LGBT issue.

In fact, Brexit may be the most pressing LGBT issue in Britain today. As Buzzfeed reported last June, with Brexit, the European laws underpinning the Equality Act 2010 – which prohibits discrimination against gay people in employment and public services – will be repealed. Apart from equal marriage, every other massive advance in LGBT rights, from equal age of consent to the ability to serve in the armed forces, has been the result of the European Court of Human Rights or the European Court of Justice.

While Brexit doesn’t necessarily pull Britain out of the ECHR, it’s entirely possible that an emboldened Theresa May, pressured by the jackals braying for a hard Brexit, could make that a priority next – “take our country back” with “British laws for British people” and so on.

The future of LGBT rights – both the ones we’ve won and the ones we’ve yet to gain – are at stake with Brexit, and I’m going to take my allies where I can get them. Whether Tim Farron believes gay sex is a sin is irrelevant to me as long as he’s voting for equality, fighting to keep Britain in the ECHR and to ensure that European law is adopted domestically wherever it need be.

This unfair character assassination has got to stop. It’s a distraction from pressing, urgent matters.

Tim Farron: 'I can jolly well affect the result of the snap general election'

I’m not writing this as an encouragement for you to go out and vote for the Liberal Democrats. I don’t trust them not to get into bed with the Tories – the only bed it truly would be a sin to occupy. But I’m also not ready to write off an ally who is politically and socially supportive because of a couple of clumsy answers about gay sex. I’m far too sensible for that.

I’m also too frightened. Brexit is happening, whether we like it or not. I have more of a chance of marrying Prince Harry than Britain has of remaining in the EU. So instead of fighting amongst ourselves over sin, we need to be talking about the protections we stand to lose and the rights we’ve yet to win – all of which should be front and centre in the Brexit negotiations.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in