A Liberal Democrats candidate has said she believes “feminising hormones in the water supply” are affecting people’s sexuality.
Susan King, who is standing in the west Midlands seat of Telford, was asked about her views on Lib Dem leader Tim Farron’s repeated refusal to say whether gay sex was a sin.
After a week of intense questioning and controversy in April, Farron eventually told the BBC that he didn’t believe gay sex was sinful.
King responded to the question, posed by the Shropshire Star during a live webchat, by saying: “I do feel environmental influences are affecting reproduction.
“All the pollution is having an effect on our DNA and our population is changing and evolving.”
She added: “There are a lot of feminising hormones getting into the environment and that has to be taken into consideration.
“It’s affecting people’s sexuality basically.
“People are at liberty to interpret how they want to live themselves.”
Unprompted, she continued to say: “Phthalates, the chemicals used in making plastics, children’s toys are affected.
“Everything that’s getting into the environment is disrupting the way industrialisation has changed our living conditions, residues of all sorts of feminising hormones in the water supply from pharmaceutical etc which is affecting gender of fish stock etc.”
King, a landscape specialist who has stood twice before in Leicestershire, was then asked if she thought that was having an effect on people’s sexuality.
“I do,” she responded.
“I’ve done a lot of research connected with water quality, and that is where I gained my political and media experience.”
King worked for three years as a director of the National Pure Water Association, according to Campanies House.
This non-profit organisation campaigns for non-fluoridated water, despite broad scientific agreement that fluoride has reduced tooth decay in the general population.
Kuldip Sahota, the Labour candidate in the Conservative-held seat, said he was “horrified and saddened” that King had made “these harmful comments about people’s sexuality.
“To suggest that our water supply is affecting people’s sexuality is absolutely unacceptable,” he continued.
“This is a damaging statement and I strongly condemn these comments.
“This is not the first time the Lib Dems have been out of touch on LGBT issues. The Lib Dems have clearly chosen an out of touch candidate who’s basic understanding is both warped and harmful.
“She should apologise immediately.”
Green Party candidate Luke Shirley said he was left “shocked and in a state of dumbfounded disbelief when I read these comments.
“I can’t believe that these views are held by anyone let alone someone who is trying to stand for a position of elected office.
“These type of comments have no place in the 21st century and this plays into prejudicial views.”
He added: “I think Ms King should apologise for her harmful comments.”
In response, a Lib Dem spokesperson said: “Susan King’s remarks were wrong and do not reflect party policy or accepted science.
“An internal post-election candidate review will take place after polling day where her eligibility to stand for the party in future will be reviewed.”
King defended her leader when asked, saying that “Tim is entitled to his own views and the Liberal Democrats are renowned for being open to all genders and welcoming everyone’s involvement in the political process.”
The issue about Farron’s comments was centred around sexuality, not gender.
King also called the Lib Dem leader “an independent thinker” who was simply “sticking to his principles”.
When she was asked about whether Farron’s views “chime with liberal values,” King answered by bringing up the issue of abortion.
“I have strong Christian views myself,” she said, “and I would find it difficult to make that decision.
“I personally chose not to have any tests in my last pregnancy even though I was considered an older mother at 38, but that’s how I choose to live my life and everybody is entitled to their own view.”
The Lib Dems finished fifth in the west Midlands constituency at the 2015 general election, with 2.3 percent of the vote.
The candidate for the Conservative Party did not immediately respond to a request for comment.