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Tim Farron accused of ‘misrepresenting’ Peter Tatchell while defending LGBT voting record

Nick Duffy June 7, 2015

Liberal Democrat leadership contender Tim Farron has again defended his record on LGBT rights, incorrectly citing the views of campaigner Peter Tatchell.

In an interview with PinkNews last month, Mr Farron addressed his mixed voting record, having voted against the programme motion for the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill in 2013, abstained on the third reading of the bill, and voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in 2007.

His voting record was questioned again today while appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Politics.

When challenged on his vote against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in 2007, he incorrectly cited the views of campaigner Peter Tatchell.

He said: “I’m in favour of that Act, I was also challenging it, as many other Liberals did.

“And by the way Peter Tatchell was on the same side as me, many others were as well, who thought it is right that you stand up in favour of protecting minority rights in these circumstances.”

Despite the claims, Mr Tatchell strongly opposed attempts to put religious exemptions in the 2007 law at the time – which Mr Farron supported.

Mr Tatchell said in 2007: “The opponents of the sexual orientation regulations are promoting a highly selective and homophobic interpretation of religious morality.

“They are singling out homosexuality from all other so-called ‘sins,’ and demanding the right, on religious grounds, to discriminate against gay people.

“[It is] an attempt to preserve the right of religious organisations to discriminate against lesbian and gay people.

“The protest leaders claim the sexual orientation regulations will ‘curtail freedom of religious belief and expression’; alleging that believers who condemn gay sex as a sin will face criminal charges. This is nonsense. The regulations do not concern beliefs or opinions.”

Speaking to PinkNews, Mr Tatchell said: “Tim has misrepresented my views. I supported the anti-discrimination Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in 2007. He voted against. I was not on the same side as Tim Farron.

“During the passage of Equalities Act 2010, he was in favour of giving religious groups exemption from the equality laws. I opposed that.

“I argued that faith organisations should have the same legal obligation to not discriminate on the grounds of sexual orientation as everyone else.

“I’m annoyed that Tim has given a misleading impression about what I said. Perhaps he was confused and it was unintentional.

“Whatever, he needs to make a public statement clarifying his view and confirming that I did not say what he claims. An apology might also be appropriate. Then we can move on. ”

 

When challenged on equal marriage, Mr Farron said: “I voted in favour of equal marriage, I also voted to challenge the legislation, on the one hand because of conscience issues, and on the other hand equal marriage was not equal enough.

“It did not extend properly to people who are transgender. If Liberals can’t ask questions like that, then who will?”

He continued: “I’m absolutely clear that I am undoubtedly and absolutely committed to equality for LGBT+ people.

“That’s why for example, I believe in extending equal marriage to making sure that transgender people are properly covered. It’s an outrage there is the spousal veto.

“That’s the case I made at the time, that is why I voted the way I did. As Liberals, we have to challenge these positions.”

Out Lib Dem peer Lord Paddick recently endorsed Mr Farron, saying: “I am absolutely confident that I can vote for Tim Farron and that he is absolutely 100% behind LGBTI rights.”

More: 2007, act, England, Equality, Law, Peter Tatchell, sexual orientation regulations, tim farron

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