A second MP has pulled out of the Westminster internship scheme funded by the charity CARE as an online petition calling on others to pull out has reached 8,000 signatures.
Liz Kendall, Labour MP for Leicester West, confirmed that in late February she cut her ties with the group, whose Chief Executive is a director of the limited company behind the Coalition for Marriage, which is campaigning against equal marriage rights for gays.
CARE, Christian Action Research and Education, co-sponsored the “Judaeo-Christian” event ‘Sex and the City: Redeeming sex today’ which included talks on “mentoring the sexually broken” from speakers including Jospeh Nicolosi, president of the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality and author of books on how to clinically “treat” being gay.
Ms Kendall said: “I am a long-standing and passionate supporter of LGBT equality. When I became involved with the CARE internship programme in December last year, I had no idea CARE had co-sponsored a conference in which “therapeutic approaches to same sex attraction” appeared on the agenda.
“I find this deeply offensive to members of the LGBT community. I completely disagree with such extreme views, and have therefore pulled out of the CARE internship programme with immediate effect.”
David Lammy MP was the first politician to severe his connection with the charity, which awards bursaries of thousands of pounds to young people to work in MPs’ offices as researchers. The internships must be declared on Parliamentary register of interests.
Phillip Dawson, a citizen of Enfield whose MP is equal marriage opponent David Burrowes, started a petition calling on MPs to refuse further interns from the organisation.
16 MPs are still being called on by the petition, which has over 8,000 signatories.
Mr Dawson told PinkNews.co.uk: “I am really pleased that Liz Kendall has followed David Lammy and publicly distanced herself from CARE. The charity, which co-sponsored a gay-cure event in 2009, was described as “a bunch of homophobic bigots” in the Guardian by Ben Bradshaw MP in 2000 after CARE refused to provide him with an intern because he is openly gay.
“It is hard for MPs because CARE don’t put any information about the gay cure event – or Ben Bradshaw’s comments – on their website. They are like a wolf in sheeps clothing – and the MPs who have accepted interns from CARE have been fleeced.”
Mr Dawson also said that at over 8,000, the number of signatories on the petition now exceeds the individual majorities of half the listed MPs in their home constituencies.
CARE’s website urges readers to sign the Coalition for Marriage, opposing equality for gay couples citing a risk of polygamous marriages and “other forms of relationship”, restrictions on freedom of speech and the belief that “clergy may be called upon, against their beliefs and conscience, to perform ceremonies”.
It says: “Likening a committed same-sex relationship with marriage between a man and woman does not compare like with like. It’s trying to make it something it isn’t – converting a circle into a square and ending up with neither shape.”
David Burrowes MP said he would not be cutting ties with CARE, which has no connection with the poverty charity CARE International, praising it for its work on “issues such as human trafficking and prostitution”. He said he would not “be party” to another event like its ‘gay cure’ conference of 2009.
Andrew Selous MP, who had a CARE intern from September 2010 to July 2011, has also defended his association with CARE, telling Bedfordshire on Sunday he was proud of the connection.
When the paper asked him about the ‘gay cure’ event, he said it was a “free country”, adding that he had “met people who have been homosexual who are no longer.
He added: “I am wholly against any form of discrimination.”