Liberal Democrat and Conservative politicians have reacted with scepticism at the announcement by Nigel Farage that UKIP will not seek to overturn same-sex marriage.
In his first ever Q&A with an LGBT audience, responding to PinkNews readers, Nigel Farage said he would not seek to overturn same-sex marriage, stating that his party is currently reviewing all of its policies including its previously stated opposition to same-sex marriage.
Despite saying he was “delighted” by the announcement that UKIP will not seek to overturn same-sex marriage, Tory vice chair Michael Fabricant also questioned how existing UKIP supporters in opposition to same-sex marriage would react.
He told PinkNews: “I am surprised and delighted to hear the latest UKIP U-turn – this time on same sex marriage. Bitterly opposed to it only a few months ago, Nigel Farage now says they won’t abolish it if they form a Government. Some hopes!
“I can’t help but question the motives for this. Are they just jumping on the bandwagon now all the fuss has passed? I do wonder what the military blazered, cravat wearing average UKIP supporter will think of this new change of policy,” he contiued.
Conservative MP Mike Freer also spoke of his scepticism at the announcment, questioning whether the move was meant as a broader attempt to “detoxify” UKIP.
Mr Freer said: “I welcome Nigel Farage’s conversion to supporting same-sex marriage, all those who see the error of previous positions should be congratulated. However, I am very sceptical as to whether the support is genuine rather than a cynical move to detoxify UKIP as Farage seeks to present the ‘New UKIP’. The homophobes who fled to UKIP must be bemused.”
Lib Dem peer Baroness Barker told PinkNews she was “unconvinced” of the move, and asked whether UKIP will stick to its new commitment on the issue.
She said: “Whatever Nigel Farage now says, UKIP appear to have gained significant support by appealing to prejudice on many levels, particularly against immigrants and against same-sex marriage.
“When LGBT people were fighting for equality, the silence from UKIP was deafening. This change of tune is unconvincing and we cannot trust them to safeguard our rights when the going gets tough.”
Pointing to the potential implementation of something similar to the French marriage system, where couples straight or gay enter into a civil marriage before holding a religious, legally non-binding ceremony, Mr Farage suggested that his party would seek to augment civil marriages with civil partnerships.
He also said the party, if elected, would seek to examine foreign aid given to countries which have questionable records on human rights, and more invited trans and intersex people to join UKIP.