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Lib Dem leader Tim Farron still won’t say if gay sex is a sin

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has once again dodged the question on whether he thinks gay sex is a sin.

A row erupted earlier this week when Mr Farron, whose pro-European party is expected to make gains in the UK’s snap June election, was asked whether he thinks gay sex is sinful in a Channel 4 interview.

Mr Farron dodged the question, saying: “I’m not in a position to be making theological pronouncements. I can promise you one thing, over the next six weeks I’m not going to spend my time talking theology or making pronouncements.”

His refusal to answer was met with widespread criticism, including from TV host Sue Perkins, Guardian columnist Owen Jones, and Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan.
Tim Farron

Farron appeared on Peston on Sunday, speaking to Robert Peston, he said it was “ludicrous” to suggest he thinks being gay is a sin.

Peston asked the Lib Dem leader about an Observer interview where Farron refused to answer the question of whether he thinks “gay sex is a sin”.

But pushed to answer the question, Farron refused to answer yet again. He simply said he gad been asked the questions “loads of times”, saying ‘being gay is not a sin”.

“It is possible I’m not the only person getting tired of this line of questioning.,” he added.

He went on to deflect the question by suggesting that in the UK he had to “pretend” he is not religious.

The Lib Dem leader has failed to respond to several requests for comment from PinkNews in the past week.

On Peston on Sunday, Farron was criticised by Labour’s Liz Kendall who said many people would be “appalled” that Farron would not clearly state that gay sex is not a sin.

He was also criticised by former Cabinet Minister Michael Gove who said as a “church goer too”, he has no problem with saying gay sex is not a sin.

Farron was criticised by campaigner Owen Jones and even by Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan.

Jones wrote on Twitter: “Tim Farron refusing to say whether gay sex is a sin is horribly damaging to young LGBT people struggling with their sexuality.”

Screenshot of Owen Jones' tweet

While Morgan added: “So Tim Farron’s latest position is that being gay’s OK but having gay sex is a sin?
How utterly ridiculous.”

Screenshot of Piers Morgan's tweet

The leader was pushed again in the House of Commons earlier this week, by out Tory MP Nigel Evans.

Mr Evans said: “A lot of his views will be asked about over the next seven weeks, and he was asked one question which he refused to give an answer to, and I’d be interested if he could today.

“Does he think that being gay is a sin?”

Mr Farron replied: “I do not. I do not.”

He added: “I tell you what, I am very proud to have gone through the lobby behind him in the coalition government where the Liberal Democrats introduced gay marriage, equal marriage, and indeed did not go as far as it should have done in terms of recognising transgender rights.

“However, there is much more to be done, and if we campaign in this election, as we will, for an open, tolerant, united society, then we need to make sure that we do not in any way be complacent about LGBT rights, not just here, but in other parts of the world, in particular what is going on in Chechnya at the moment.”

Mr Evans had asked whether it is a sin to be gay, whereas Channel 4 asked whether it is a sin to have gay sex.

Speaking to Press Association Mr Farron added: “I have never judged anybody, I am massively in favour of people being absolutely free to have the right to love who they love, be who they are, marry who they marry.

“My belief for equality runs through me like a stick of rock and likewise through our party as well. I am a liberal to my fingertips and that especially applies to LGBT rights.”

“As a liberal I believe in human rights, in equality for every single person … and LGBT rights are absolutely central to those human rights I am massively passionate about.”

“You just need to look at my record.”

Unlike Mr Clegg, who fiercely championed LGBT rights, Mr Farron rose to the leadership position with a poor voting history on the issue – but he has become an outspoken and consistent supporter of equal rights since becoming party leader.

Just last week, Mr Farron was leading calls against the persecution of gay people in Chechnya, lobbying Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on the issue.

He told PinkNews: “These reports from Chechnya are truly horrifying, and represent an extreme manifestation of increasing homophobic brutality and intolerance in Putin’s Russia.

“The UK government must strongly condemn this disgusting violence, and use every possibly opportunity to raise this with the Russian government, as well as in the UN and other international bodies.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did not respond to PinkNews’ request for comment on Chechnya and did not make a public statement.

Through his time in Parliament Mr Farron has lobbied on a number of other issues, championing transgender equality and criticising the blanket ban on blood donation by men who have sex with men.

He also personally intervened in Parliament to help secure the safety of a transgender woman who has been sent to a man’s prison.

Two out transgender women are expected to stand as Lib Dem candidates in June’s election.

Last year footage of Michael Gove surfaced reporting on an early Pride parade in London.

He also argued for the British Army to encourage homosexuality among troops.

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