A former Tory minister famed for his anti-LGBT views will not be seeking re-election.
Selections are currently underway ahead of June’s Snap Election, called by Prime Minister Theresa May last week in a surprise announcement.
The Conservative MP for Aldershot, Sir Gerald Howarth, has this week confirmed he will not be standing for re-election.
Mr Howarth is most famous for warned of the dangers of the “aggressive homosexual community” during 2013’s equal marriage debate.
The MP claimed during the debate: “I fear the playing field is not being levelled I believe the pendulum is swinging so far the other way, and there are plenty in the aggressive homosexual community who see this as but a stepping stone to something even further.”
He added: “There are people out there who will be intimidated by this legislation… Opposition Members speak effortlessly of their belief in freedom of expression, but I am afraid that the reality out there is very different.
“Our constituents do feel intimidated. They fear that they will be accused of a hate crime.
“That, in my view, is a new and wholly pernicious development of the law.”
He said: “I have to say that it is astonishing that a bill for which there is absolutely no mandate, against which a majority of Conservatives voted against, has been bulldozed through both Houses and just two hours of debate tonight is an absolute parliamentary disgrace.
“I think the government should think very carefully in future if they want the support of these benches, offending large swathes of the Conservative Party is not a good way of going about it.”
Along with equal marriage Sir Gerald was also staunchly opposed to the introduction of civil partnerships and the recognition of same-sex unions.
Speaking about rights protections for same-sex couples in 2005, he said: “[It will be] quite upsetting for families in the married quarters and I am personally very much opposed to it.
“This is a Christian country and Christian teaching is very clear on these matters and I am extremely concerned that young people today are being bombarded with literature which suggests that a homosexual relationship is the same as a heterosexual relationship, which it is not.”
In a statement this week, he said: “It is with some sadness that last night I informed the Chairman and Officers of the Aldershot and North Hampshire Conservative Association that I shall not be seeking re-election at the forthcoming General Election.
“It has been a huge privilege to have represented, as their Member of Parliament, the people of Aldershot for the past 20 years, and the people of Cannock and Burntwood for 9 years before that.
“I have every confidence in the outstanding leadership of Prime Minister Theresa May and have assured her of my fullest support from beyond the Palace of Westminster.”