The leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, has apologised after a tweet from his account suggested gay people could be cured.
The tweet, responding to the British Humanist Association’s citing of Stonewall’s research that some healthcare professionals believe homosexuality is curable, said: “They can be, most sexual disorientation is caused by chemical leaching … check out fish and frogs.”
The tweet has since been deleted, and Mr Farron has tweeted: “I am investigating after a fake and malicious tweet appeared to be posted from my account this evening. I apologise for any offence caused.”
Mr Farron has previously come under fire for having a mixed voting record on LGBTI rights, and most recently for failing to answer directly the question of whether homosexuality was, in his view, a sin.
However, he has never supported conversion therapy and has in fact consistently spoken against it. He finally severed his links with Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), which provides Christian interns to parliamentarians, in 2012 following revelations that CARE supported and funded conferences promoting a “gay cure”.
At the time, Mr Farron said: “You won’t be surprised to learn that I consider the notion of a ‘gay cure’ utterly offensive and have made my view on this very clear to CARE.”
Mr Farron has also supported calls within the Liberal Democrats to ban conversion therapy, including Liberal Youth Scotland’s campaign.
The tweet therefore expresses a view at odds with Mr Farron’s previously stated position.
Other MPs have had their twitter accounts compromised in recent years, including Labour’s Tom Watson and the Conservatives’ Karl McCartney – who called for Twitter to take action to combat “any malicious and salacious attempts to embarrass the account holder”.
The alleged hacking has occured at a time when the new Lib Dem leader has come under intense scrutiny for his religious views. While it is reasonable to expect political leaders to be accountable, some have jumped to Mr Farron’s defence in recent days, appalled by what they see as an attack on his personal faith. Among these has been Rev David Robertson, the moderator of the Free Church of Scotland.
Mr Robertson said: “John Humphreys would never badger Nick Clegg about the impact his atheism would have on his decision making.”