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Here’s 6 things you need to know about the Brexit Party’s (very short) history of LGBT+ rights

Patrick Kelleher December 12, 2019
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage (PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty)

The Brexit Party manifesto is the only major political party’s that completely fails to mention LGBT+ issues.

PinkNews looked at political manifestos of all the major parties contesting the election, and the Brexit Party is the only one that fails to mention LGBT+ issues once.

The Brexit Party makes no pledges to LGBT+ rights or issues whereas every other major party makes a number of commitments in this area.

Despite only forming on 20 January, 2019, they’ve still managed to wrack up a coloured – albeit short – history when it comes to LGBT+ rights and queer liberations. Here’s six things you really should know about Nigel Farage’s party.

1. Notoriously anti-LGBT+ politician Ann Widdecombe is a Brexit Party MEP.

Former Conservative Party MP Ann Widdecombe has in more recent times aligned herself with the Brexit Party and was elected to the European parliament earlier this year. She is one of the party’s best known figures – and she has a long history of expressing anti-LGBT+ views.

Ann Widdecombe holding a microphone
Ann Widdecombe speak during a Brexit Party rally. (Anthony Devlin/Getty)

In 2012, she wrote an article lamenting the fact that conversion therapy was not being offered to “unhappy homosexuals”. Widdecombe defended her comments in an interview with Sky News earlier this year, saying: “The fact we now think it’s quite impossible for people to switch sexuality doesn’t mean science may not yet produce an answer at some stage.” She later claimed that she has gay friends and believes that this makes her immune from accusations of homophobia.

She is also a former Conservative minister and is standing for the Brexit Party in the Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport constituency.

3. The Brexit Party was forced to cut ties with a Scottish candidate who declared “war” on the LGBT+ community.

The Brexit Party was forced to pull support from Scottish candidate Victor Farrell last month. Farrell was running as a candidate for Glenrothes in Fife, but the discovery of historic social media posts where he declared “war” on the LGBT+ community quickly put his political ambitions to rest.

His offensive views about “perverts pushing sodomite rights” were revealed by SNP MSP Jenny Gilruth on Twitter.

In one post, Farrell wrote: “LGBTQ – whatever you are. I now publicly confirm that in response to your never ending attacks. I am now AT WAR WITH YOU ALL.”

4. The Brexit Party is running an openly gay candidate – but two trans candidates are no longer contesting the election.

Given the Brexit Party’s failure to mention LGBT+ rights in its manifesto, some may find it surprising that they are running an openly gay candidate. David Brown is running for election in Blackpool South. He recently hit out at Conservative candidate Scott Benton over his links to anti-abortion group the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC). Although SPUC’s primary focus is on abortion, the group has long campaigned against same-sex marriage, which it believes will lead to the “dismemberment of family structures” throughout society.

David Brown (right) is representing Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party in Blackpool South (Twitter/@BrexitSouth)

The Brexit Party also previously announced that they would be running two trans candidates in the upcoming general election, but neither are in the race any longer. The party announced that 52-year-old Jessica Swift would run in August, but leader Nigel Farage removed her from the race in order to avoid splitting the vote with the Conservative Party. They also announced that Rachel Warby would run for South Northamptonshire, but she has since pulled out of the election.

5. Nigel Farage has defended Boris Johnson’s ‘tank-topped bum boys’ comments.

In a recent interview on BBC Radio Five Live, Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage defended Conservative leader Boris Johnson’s past comments about gay people in which he referred to them as “tank topped bum boys.”

Farage insisted that the use of terms such as “tank-topped bum boys” is simply part of the ‘Boris Brand’.

“Boris is a guy who has earned his living being a very outspoken journalist and that’s why he uses phrases like that,” the former UKIP leader said.

“He talks about letterboxes, other things.”

He continued: “I may not approve of all of it but I also think that if we start to go down the road of saying people saying this or that is unacceptable, if we want to bar him from public life because of some of the unsavoury things he’s written, then I think we might finish up with nobody in public life at all.”

6. The Brexit Party’s co-founder is not happy that they are running queer candidates.

Catherine Blaiklock set up the Brexit Party alongside Nigel Farage in 2018, but she doesn’t seem too keen on the decision to allow LGBT+ candidates to run. Writing for right-wing website Politicalite, Blaiklock complained that “left-wing Marxists seem to now be running the show.”

She wrote: “Brexit party candidates are chosen for their identity – one white, one black, one brown, one Muslim, one Jewish, one transgender, one gay, one lesbian etc.

Catherine Blaiklock, leader of the Brexit Party, watches the Fishing For Leave flotilla on March 15, 2019
Catherine Blaiklock, former Brexit Party leader and founder (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

“Diversity is the big word. This started with the MEP elections where someone brown would be put ahead of a stale, male and pale RAF wing commander with experience. It has continued with force.”

She has also previously hit out brands for embracing LGBT+ issues, writing on Twitter: “It’s not that people are anti-gay but they are fed up with it being shoved down their throats all day long. People don’t go to Sainsbury’s to be fed gay political propaganda.”

More: Ann Widdecombe, Brexit Party, General Election 2019, Nigel Farage

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