Phillip Lee misrepresented?

Newly-defected Lib Dem faces questions over LGBT voting record

Independent

Lib Dem LGBT chair quits party after it lets Tory MP with poor gay rights record join

The Lib Dems are facing a members' revolt over the decision to allow a Tory MP with a poor record on LGBT rights to join the party.

Phillip Lee dramatically crossed the floor on Tuesday over Brexit, costing the government its majority and bolstering the liberals' ranks ahead of crucial votes on stopping no-deal.

But their new MP is a longstanding skeptic on same-sex marriage, and also ran a campaign to bar people with HIV from being able to come to the UK.

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Are Dr Phillip Lee's LGBT views misrepresented?

By Daniel J. McLaughlin

Dr Phillip Lee dramatically joined the Lib Dems at the start of the month, but his defection from the Tories has not been welcomed by all party members.

Lee's voting record on LGBT rights has been questioned, after he abstained on the same-sex marriage vote and introduced an amendment to ban HIV-positive immigrants from entering the UK.

The Bracknell MP argues that his views have been "misrepresented", saying he is not homophobic.

However, LGBT members of the Lib Dems have quit the party in protest.

The Claim

Lee told The Times that he was not guilty of homophobia, defending his choice to abstain on a Commons vote on same-sex marriage in 2013.

He said: “Of course I believe in equality of relationships. I always did.

"I think I’m guilty of nuanced argument. I would actually argue that it is a liberal approach to take the state out of marriage.

"For me to be accused of being homophobic - can we actually look at what I have said and done?”

Lee, who trained to be a GP, added: "I was just trying to suggest that perhaps a more sensible way forward was to get out of the marriage business."

He also appeared on the Guardian’s Today in Focus podcast, arguing that there has been a "misrepresentation of my views".

In 2014, the former Tory MP tabled an amendment calling for immigrants to be tested for HIV before they are granted permission to come to the UK.

On the podcast, he said: "My view was that it’s better that with people coming into this country we knew their status so that they could be treated, and also that we could prevent further infection spreading.

"That’s not how it’s been portrayed in certain quarters."

The Counterclaim

However, the Lib Dems' decision to allow Lee into the party has caused some members to leave, the Independent reports.

Jennie Rigg, former chair of the Liberal Democrats LGBT caucus, quit the Lib Dems as soon as Lee joined.

She describes the Bracknell MP as "a homophobe, a xenophobe, and someone who thinks people should be barred from the country if they are ill".

Rigg said: "I thought the Lib Dems were not a single issue party. I thought we had a soul and principles.

"But apparently as long as you are on the right side on Brexit, we’ll take you. Well, I’m sorry, but no."

She added: "I will not share a party with him."

The Facts

Lee dramatically joined the Lib Dems on September 3 when he defected from the Tories during Boris Johnson's speech to the Commons.

The Bracknell MP walked across the chamber to the Lib Dem benches when the prime minister was updating MPs on G7 summit in August.

His defection to the Lib Dems saw Johnson lose his one-vote Commons working majority.

Lee is one of the six MPs who have defected to her party since July. He follows former Tory MP Sarah Wollaston and ex-Labour MP Chuka Umunna, along with Luciana Berger, Angela Smith, and Sam Gyimah, who have joined under Jo Swinson's leadership.

The Lib Dems currently have 18 MPs.

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The Guardian

Phillip Lee says record on LGBT rights has been misrepresented

One of the new Liberal Democrat MP recruits, Dr Phillip Lee, who has been dogged by criticism from activists over his record on LGBT rights since he joined the party, claims his views have been misrepresented.

LGBT activists in senior party roles quit in protest after the former Tory justice minister was accepted into the Lib Dems earlier this month. His dramatic defection eliminated prime minister Boris Johnson's majority.

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