Transgender newsreader India Willoughby joins Ann Widdecombe on Celebrity Big Brother
Transgender newsreader India Willoughby is joining an all-female Celebrity Big Brother house – alongside ultra-conservative Ann Widdecombe.
The pair are both signed up to appear on the Channel 5 reality show, which launches tonight.
The TV show will be celebrating 100 years of women being granted the right to vote with an all-female contestant launch.
Transgender newsreader India Willoughby is set to join the house as part of the women-only launch.
Willoughby, 51, became known to TV viewers as a panellist on Loose Women, where she is never shy to share her views.
The TV presenter became known to viewers in the North East as a news anchor for ITV Border, where she worked for 10 years before transitioning.
In 2010, she quit her regional job in Carlisle, Cumbria, to undergo her transition.
She made a return to the airwaves in 2016 as a woman – and has since become a prominent columnist, as well as a panellist on Loose Women.
The transgender journalist and presenter will be walking on eggshells in the house, as joining her will be former Tory MP Ann Widdecombe.
Widdecombe is a lifelong critic of LGBT rights, who recently spoke out against Prime Minister Theresa May for vowing to support transgender rights at the PinkNews Awards.
Responding to the PM’s speech, Widdecombe said: “I think this is very very bad news for a lot of confused young people and if I were the Prime Minister I would think rather long and hard about this.”
She added: “I don’t think you can have the sort of process which she envisages, which was set out by Justine Greening, a very simple process whereby you just say ‘I’m a man or a woman’.
“If you do that you get men in women’s prisons or men in women’s refuges.
“I think also you can confuse the young at that point because they think it’s a simple matter.”
The inclusion of a transgender woman in the all-female launch will be bound to rile her.
Newspaper columnist Rachel Johnson, the outspoken sister of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, will also be in the house, alongside Carry On actress Amanda Barrie.
Reality stars Malika Haqq, Ashley James and Jess Impiazzi round out the launch lineup.
One contender who will not be part of the series is Britain’s Next Top Model contestant Talulah-Eve.
The model, who is also transgender, reportedly dropped out of the show after finding out that Willoughby would also be taking part.
According to The Sun, the pair have clashed repeatedly in the past – and the model wasn’t willing to be on the show alongside her.
A source said: “The reports of India going in put her off.
“They both knew each other and got on in the past, but they recently appeared on Good Morning Britain and ended up having a very heated debate.
“After the show, India started indirectly insulting Talulah-Eve on Twitter, by retweeting nasty tweets about her voice.
“2017 was a great year for Talulah, with a lot in store for 2018. She wants to keep everything on the positive and felt that being in environment with India would not have gone down well at all.
“Talulah-Eve is a very strong but also very likeable character, who’s known for making compulsive viewing. However, she didn’t want to constantly be at loggerheads with India.”
Widdecombe has consistently voted against LGBT rights, opposing an equal age of consent, the repeal of Section 28, the Equality Act, same-sex adoption and civil partnerships. She has previously expressed support for ‘gay cure’ therapy.
In 2014 she wrote: “If the baker had refused merely to bake a cake because the customer was gay then that would indeed have been both unpleasant and illegal but the refusal was specific to the message requested for the cake.
“Surely it is an elementary feature of true democracy that nobody should be obliged by law to affirm that which he or she does not believe.”
She added: “In a free country the baker should be able to refuse to take part in what is effectively PR for gay marriage in the knowledge that any customers who do not like that decision are free to buy their morning loaf elsewhere.
“But then it is a long time since Britain and freedom were synonymous.”
Widdecombe moved on to take a swipe at David Cameron in her article.
“Parliament was assured time and again that the introduction of gay marriage would not cause discrimination against those who believed it wrong. What price your assurances now, Mr Cameron?”
She then mentioned the case of a Christian woman who it’s claimed was prevented from becoming a foster parent due to her views on marriage rights for gay couples.
“In my postbag this week is a letter from someone who had reached the final stages for approval as a foster parent but was rejected because she would not affirm that a gay relationship was on a par with a marriage between a man and a woman.
“She was not immoderate about her views and said that of course she would be prepared to explore a young person’s sexuality sympathetically but that she did not regard all arrangements as equally valid. That’s an awful lot of potential fosterers eliminated.”
A staunch conservative, Widdecombe said the decision to legalise same-sex marriage in 2013 left her feeling “alienated”.
She said: “I’d rather form my own party than ever join UKIP. We could call it the Widdy Mob. I’m joking.
“I was very angry with the Conservatives, I was very alienated by gay marriage, not only by the issue but by the attitude of the party high command.
“David Cameron just bulldozed the whole thing through, though it had never been in any manifesto or tried or tested.”
She also launched a boycott of the Red Cross, after it dropped a homophobic volunteer.
The ex-politician fumed: “I have withdrawn all support for the Red Cross, an organisation which I have backed in various ways throughout my life.
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“Let us be clear: the issue here is not whether one supports gay marriage or not but whether one should be free to state a position.
She quit the church in objection to liberalisation on women ministers and LGBT people.
In addition to the Church of England, the Red Cross and the Conservative Party, Widdecombe’s scorched-earth approach to LGBT issues also reached the National Trust.
After the Trust began an LGBT history campaign, Widdecombe lent her support to calls for a boycott and said the organisation “has lost its way completely”.