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Tim Farron labelled ‘illiberal democrat’ over gay rights history

Joe Williams July 17, 2015

The Times newspaper has criticised the Liberal Democrats election of new leader Tim Farron – labelling him the “illiberal democrat” for his history on left wing issues such, including gay rights.

Tim Farron was yesterday elected to lead the Liberal Democrats, replacing former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Former party president Farron beat former Health Minister Norman Lamb to become the head of the party, following its electoral wipe-out in May’s General Election.

Many fellow party members welcomed Mr Farron’s election – however, The Times have today issued a less than favourable reaction to the announcement.

They criticised the new leader’s poor voting record when it comes to liberal issues, highlighting his rejection of the same-sex marriage bill, strong religious beliefs and failure to “embrace the quintessentially liberal idea that every person has equal moral worth”.

The piece – titled “Illiberal Democrat” – says that due to Mr Farron’s beliefs, his party’s reduced influence in Parliament is a good thing for country.

They wrote: “This may be a good thing, for the new Lib Dem leader is not in all respects a liberal.

“An evangelical Christian since his teenage years, he believes that every word written in the Bible is literal truth, that God has a precise plan for all of us and that heaven and hell are physical entities to which all of us are consigned after death.”

The article goes on to list Mr Farron’s “illiberal” voting record on gay rights, saying: “Mr Farron’s consistent failure to embrace the quintessentially liberal idea that every person has equal moral worth should trouble his party.

“He not only abstained on same-sex marriage but also tried to weaken the legislation. He had previously abstained on the votes allowing adoption by gay couples and IVF treatment for lesbians.”

Mr Farron spoken openly about his poor voting record on equality legislation, telling PinkNews that he “regrets anything that gives people the wrong impression”.

The politician claimed he voted against the Programme Motion on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, because he was trying to secure more time to discuss trans issues.

He was also forced to apologise to rights campaigner Peter Tatchell – after claiming Mr Tatchell agreed with his decision to vote against 2008’s Sexual Orientation Regulations.

When challenged on his opposition, he claimed that “Peter Tatchell was on the same side as me” – but Mr Tatchell, a veteran campaigner for of LGBT rights, was actually a vocal supporter of the Act.

Making pledges on LGBT issues going forward, Mr Farron said: “On LGBT+ issues, how do you follow it? I’ll give you three things I’m very keen we do.

“One, when it comes to the equal marriage legislation, I think we really missed a trick on trans issues. On the spousal veto, I think it’s an appalling thing that one person is allowed to block another person’s freedom. We should be making that a priority.

“Secondly, it strikes me as deeply troubling is that there was no regulation of psychotherapists in the UK for quack conversion therapy.

“Thirdly, we’ve got to end the gay blood ban, which is a disgrace. My pledge to you is that my first opposition day bill will be getting rid of the gay blood ban. All of these things need to be based on the science, not on prejudice.”

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