Celebrity Big Brother 2018: Ann Widdecombe’s shocking views on gay and transgender people
Ultra-conservative politician Ann Widdecombe has walked into the Celebrity Big Brother house as part of an all-female line up.
The 2018 series is intended to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act, with tasks designed to challenge gender roles.
It could come as something of a shock to former Conservative minister and shadow Home Secretary Ann Widdecombe, who has spent decades opposing liberal attitudes to gender and sexuality.
As Conservative MP for Maidstone and The Weald from 1987 until 2010, she vehemently opposed gay rights – voting to block them at every opportunity.
According to vote monitoring website Public Whip, Widdecombe opposed every single equality measure for LGBT people during her 23 years in the corridors of power.
She also opposes transgender rights, believes people can be ‘cured’ of their homosexuality, is anti-abortion, pro-death penalty and once argued pregnant prisoners should be shackled while giving birth.
Ann Widdecombe’s voting record on gay rights
Few MPs have used their power to oppose the equality of gay people as much as Ann Widdecombe – 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 and sayspeople should have the ‘freedom’ to discriminate against gay couples.
Ann Widdecombe on same-sex marriage
As a major force behind the Coalition for Marriage – the national campaign to block same-sex marriages – Widdecombe spoke out regularly in opposition to equality.
Despite remaining being a Conservative Party member, she attacked Prime Minister David Cameron for introducing the law, saying she felt “alienated by gay marriage”.
She said: “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 was so outraged about the legislation, in fact, that she called for protests in the streets, like those seen in France.
Speaking to students at the University of Plymouth, Ms Widdecombe said: “Over 200,000 people marched on the streets of London when Labour wanted to bring in the fox hunting ban – how come there wasn’t that kind of reaction speaking out for our religious freedom?
“If we actually saw 100,000 Christians on the streets protesting like other organisations do then you might actually see us being listened to.
“The reason why governments keep on producing legislation which impacts heavily on Christians is because they do not think we matter very much.”
Ann Widdecombe on gay couples adopting
When same-sex adoption proposals came before parliament in 2002, Widdecombe claimed she could not support the move because only married parents should be allowed to adopt, and gay couples could not wed.
In a remarkable twist, she later opposed gay couples’ right to have either a civil partnership or marriage.
Speaking during the debate, she said the legal responsibilities that come with marriage guaranteed children’s “stability” and “security”.
“If two people really want to adopt, if they are looking at the interests and security of that child, unless there is an impediment, they should want to marry,” she told MPs.
The ex Strictly Come Dancing contestant later claimed Christians were discriminated against in adopting – after a couple was rejected for refusing to teach their prospective children that gay people are equal to heterosexual people.
“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.”
Ann Widdecombe on transgender rights
Responding to the Prime Minister Theresa May’s pro-trans speech at the PinkNews Awards, 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 India Willoughby in the all-female launch is bound to rile her.
Ann Widdecombe on ‘gay cure’ therapy
The devout Christian has previously expressed support for so-called ‘gay cure’ therapy – the false idea that a person can change their sexuality.
She backed the ability of therapists to offer so-called ‘gay cure’ treatments to clients who want to become straight.
In a column in the Daily Express, she questioned the lack of availability of therapy for “gays who do not want to be gay”.
Widdecombe wrote about the case of Lesley Pilkington, who was found guilty of malpractice by the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy in 2011.
She argued that if a gay person wants to change their sexuality, professional help should be available to them, despite a lack of scientific evidence for it working.
She wrote: “When I was training as a Samaritan in the Eighties the first principle was never to dismiss another’s priorities.
“If a man rang in and said he was gay we should never say, “Oh, that doesn’t matter, it’s OK to be gay,” if he took the opposite view.”