LGBT stance a big issue?

Lib Dem leader finds an unlikely ally

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Tim Farron's LGBT stance

If you Google 'Tim Farron', you come across two topics which couldn't be further from one another: his theological beliefs and a fish finger. Both of which are trying to hamper his election campaign.

The fish finger, or rather a man dressed as one, is standing against Mr Farron for the Westmorland and Lonsdale seat in the snap general election on June 8. The MP has welcomed the challenge, before adding: "I'm more of a chips and mushy peas man."

His theological beliefs have also been making the news. As an evangelical Christian, he has been asked about his views on homosexuality. In 2015, after just one day in his role as party leader, Channel 4's Cathy Newman asked him whether he thought, as a Christian, that homosexual sex was a sin.

He floundered with the question, remarking that to "understand Christianity is to understand that we are all sinners".

Ms Newman returned to this question on Tuesday with Mr Farron refusing to be drawn into answering it, arguing that he won't spend time discussing theology or making pronouncements.

Following backlash from his refusal to set out his position on the matter, he clarified his stance in the House of Commons. The Lib Dem leader was a bit more clear when asked if he thought homosexuality was a sin by Conservative MP Nigel Evans, replying: "I do not."

He added: "I am very proud to have gone through the lobby behind [Mr Evans] 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."

His voting record on LGBT rights has changed over the years. He abstained on the equal marriage bill's third reading in 2013, something he later admitted to regretting, and he voted against the Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations in 2007, again expressing a change of heart later on.

Something changed to make the Liberal become more liberal towards LGBT rights: he replaced Nick Clegg as the leader of the Liberal Democrats. Since then, he has voted a number of times in favour of gay marriage and spoken up on LGBT rights, according to the New Statesman.

The Independent notes that he has previously spoken out against what he called "quack conversion therapy" aimed at gay people, and against restrictions on gay men giving blood.

Over a week before his interview on Channel 4 News, Mr Farron marked LGBT History Month by recognising the campaigners who fought homophobia and prejudice. He said that he was proud to lead a party that is "accepting of anyone, regardless of their race, faith, gender, background or sexual orientation".

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