Emily Thornberry: You cannot aspire to be Prime Minister if you think gay people are immoral
Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry has said that people who think gay sex are immoral should not become party leaders.
Ms Thornberry was speaking after the resignation of Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, a devout Christian who quit after facing questions about his views on gay sex.
In his leaving speech, Mr Farron said he found it impossible “to live as a committed Christian” while leading a liberal party, referencing repeated questions about his views on homosexuality.
Labour’s Emily Thornberry responded to the resignation while appearing on Question Time last night.
She said: “I think you cannot aspire to be Prime Minister of this country, which is what Tim Farron was trying to do, and think a substantial minority of this country, by their very sexuality, are in some way immorral.
“I think that you also have to make sure that what you say publicly is what you believe privately, and I know plenty of Christians who fully understand that a woman should have the right to choose an abortion, that people should not be treated in any other way for being gay.
“There are plenty of Christians involved in politics, it is not Christians being picked on.”
The current Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May is a Christian and the daughter of a vicar. She was asked if gay sex is a sin and confirmed she did not.
Thornberry also dealt a riposte to Conservative Woman author Laura Perrins, who had claimed that Mr Farron’s treatment shows Christians were being persecuted.
She said: “Quite frankly, listening to a Conservative woman saying that Christians are picked on in partuclar, ought to remember the way they treated Sadiq Khan for being a Muslim.”
Mr Khan, a moderate Muslim politician and a strong supporter of LGBT rights, was smeared repeatedly by his Conservative opponents while running for Mayor of London.
Ms Thornberry is a strong supporter of the LGBT community, recently jokingly declaring herself a gay icon.
On the same programme, Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb praised Mr Farron for dealing with the situation with “dignity” but said politicians must be clear that gay people should be accepted.
He said: “I felt in the end desperately sorry for him. I think he was tortured, and found it extraordinarily difficult. I think he’s made a dignified decision at the end of it.
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“The one thing I want to be absolutely clear on, is there does have to be a very clear message that goes out to every gay person, perhaps a teenager who’s being bullied at school.
“The message has to go out that you are who you are and you will be respected for who you are, you can love who you want to love, and you will not be treated as if you have committed a sin.
“Treat people with respect and dignity for who they are, not on the basis of who they love.”
Tory defence minister Tobias Ellwood added: “I think Parliament is only as good as the people who want to stand and be part of that, and I don’t know whether the behaviour here will put more people off.
“But I absolutely agree, that in this context… I’m a Christian, and I’m very pleased that our party brought in the same-sex marriage law with the Liberal Democrats, and Turing’s Law as well.”