Thursday , 20 June 2019

Does LibDem leader Tim Farron think gay sex is sinful?

Tim Farron
Tim Farron

The new Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, has created controversy by refusing to answer a question on whether he believed gay sex is sinful, yesterday on TV.

KaleidoScot takes a closer look at his statements and his past views hearing some critical assessment of Farron’s position.

Farron, who defeated former health minister Norman Lamb in the race to replace outgoing leader Nick Clegg, was asked about his views on gay sex during an interview with Cathy Newman on Channel 4 News.

She asked him: “Personally, do you think as a Christian, that homosexual sex is a sin?”

He answered by saying that Christians “do not go around forcing their views on other people” – but did not state that gay sex was not a sin.

When challenged for a second time, he claimed “to understand Christianity is to understand that we are all sinners” – but did not say that homosexuality is not a sin.

He went on to say “the Bible phrase that I use most – particularly with my kids, but actually on myself – is ‘You don’t pick out the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye when there is a plank in your own.’”

When Newman challenged him yet again quoting directly from Leviticus, he responded that “My faith is based upon my belief that Jesus Christ is who he said he is”, again refusing to state that homosexuality is not a sin.

Farron has in the past been criticised for his voting record on equal marriage and LGBTI equality more generally. Some of these criticisms continued to be directed at him during his leadership campaign, in which he was at pains to point out that he regretted the way he had voted.

He abstained at the third reading of the marriage equality bill (Marriage – same sex couples – act) – something he admitted later to be a mistake and which he explained should not be taken to suggest he opposed marriage equality.  “Put simply, there were a couple of amendments that were about the protection of essentially religious minorities, conscience protections, and I kind of voted for those,” he said.

“Me doing something like that, which is about protecting people’s right to conscience, I definitely regret it if people have misread that and think that means I’m lukewarm on equal marriage.”

Farron, who attends Parr Street Evangelical Church in Kendal, has come under fire for his religious views in the past. In January 2007, Farron told the Salvation Army magazine War Cry that “the Bible is clear about sexuality of all sorts” and “the standards that define my personal morality as a Christian are not the standards of public morality”. In the same interview, referring to abortion, he added: “Abortion is wrong. Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing morally objectionable about abortion before a certain time. If abortion is wrong, it is wrong at any time.”

He also made headlines in 2012 when he co-signed a letter to the Advertising Standards Agency arguing that God’s healing power cannot be disputed scientifically, and at a parliamentary prayer breakfast in 2013 made the assertion that “”Christianity is not a bit true. It’s either wrong or utterly compellingly true”.

Farron also accepted interns from Christian anti-LGBTI equality charity CARE, as did Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie who supported Farron’s leadership bid – describing him as “a committed liberal”.

Farron’s interview has gone viral on social media, with many Liberal Democrat members and activists expressing their anger at what one termed “a kamikaze interview”. Speaking to KaleidoScot, a gay Scottish Liberal Democrat party member said that not only did the interview “suggest our new leader thinks that my relationship is inherently sinful”, but also “called into question the great communication skills that Tim has become famous for. It was a disastrous intervention…I mean, how hard can it be to say ‘no, it’s not a sin’?”

Furthermore the party member, who wished to remain anonymous, questioned: “I would like to see if Willie Rennie would be critical of Farron’s evasiveness, I would very much hope he shows his commitment to equality by doing that.”

You can watch the full interview here:

About Dan Littauer

Dan Littauer is a journalist who specializes in LGBTI current affairs, travel writing, feature writing and investigative journalism. He is a correspondent for LGBTQ Nation, ManAboutWorld, and previously worked for Gay Star News, PinkNews, San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, Gay Middle East, Lonely Planet as well as contributing occasionally to the BBC, Al-Jazeera, CNN and The Guardian. He also had an extensive career outside journalism, which included teaching psychoanalysis and social science, and consultancy work for the travel market. When he is not busy writing, he can be spotted rambling around the stunning Scottish landscape, where he lives, spending time at home with his cat.

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7 comments

  1. I don't care less about his religious beliefs, they are precisely that "his beliefs" I care about how he votes/ acts

  2. You'd better care about the religious beliefs of MPs when they use those beliefs as the basis for how they vote in Parliament.

  3. jesus ben joseph in my opinion was a homosexual as he had many male " fans" and his female followers were what may be termed now a days as "fag hags",prostitutes etc.Did he marry?

  4. are people who are "left handed" sinful ? because being left handed is a quirk of the brain as being homosexual is.

  5. "Speaking to KaleidoScot, a gay Scottish Liberal Democrat party member said that not only did the interview “suggest our new leader thinks that my relationship is inherently sinful”, but also “called into question the great communication skills that Tim has become famous for. It was a disastrous intervention…I mean, how hard can it be to say ‘no, it’s not a sin’?”"

    The libdems still have members in Scotland? Who knew?

  6. The problem is that if Farron believes this "clear" biblical teaching about homosexuality, we're faced with something of a paradox. Privately he believes practising homosexuals should be put to death. Publicly he's going to do his utmost to fight for their rights. This is really a case for the psychiatrists, I think.

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