Ann Widdecombe accused of homophobia for comments about 'Strictly' same-sex coupling

Ann Widdecombe, Brexit Party member and former member of parliament for the Conservative Party, is interviewed after Nigel Farage, Leader of Britain's Brexit Party, spoke on stage at the launch of their policies for the General Election campaign, in London, Friday, Nov. 22, 2019. Britain goes to the polls on Dec. 12. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Ann Widdecombe has said she doesn't believe families want to watch a same-sex couple dance together. (AP)

Ann Widdecombe has been accused of homophobia for her comments about Strictly Come Dancing’s same-sex coupling.

The 73-year-old former Conservative Party MP and Brexit party MEP, who competed on the show in 2010, has said families do not want to watch people of the same gender dancing together.

Widdecombe told The Times: “I don’t think it is what viewers of Strictly, especially families, are looking for. But that’s up to the audience and the programme.”

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This year has seen the first competing same-sex couple on the BBC dance show – which launched on Saturday 17 October – with Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams partnered with Russian professional dancer Katya Jones.

Widdecombe’s remark has been subjected to strong retaliation on social media, with viewers insisting their families are more than happy to see a same-sex couple dancing on the show.

Scott Bryan tweeted: “The use of 'families' is *such* a homophobic trope, the view that LGBT visibility is somehow harmful.”

EMBARGOED UNTIL 0001 SATURDAY 18 DECEMBER. Ann Widdecombe and dancing partner Anton Du Beke during rehearsals for Strictly Come Dancing, at BBC Television Centre in west London.
Ann Widdecombe being flung around the floor by dancing partner Anton Du Beke during rehearsals for 'Strictly Come Dancing' in 2010. (PA)

Spooky Laura wrote: “Who does Ann Widdicombe think she is to speak on behalf of 'families'? I'd much rather my children see an interracial same sex couple represented on TV, than see or hear any of the divisive nonsense coming from her!”

James Allport commented: “I've checked with my family. I'm sorry to disappoint Ann Widdecombe but we're completely un-bothered by same-gender couples on #Strictly. The things we don't want to see include homlessness [sic], massive social inequality and entrenched bigotry.”

David Shepherd tweeted: “Hasn’t #AnnWiddecombe come across elderly widows ballroom dancing together at old people’s club socials? #StrictlyComeDancing.”

And Pickle-Lily wrote: “My family love watching people dance together, and we don't care about which gender they are. #annwiddecombe #lovenothate.”

Former politician Widdecombe – who appeared on Celebrity Big Brother in 2018 – is strictly religious and has never married or had children. She has refused to confirm or deny if has ever had a sexual relationship.

Professional dancer Jones has told the Radio Times she is unfazed about being partnered with a woman for the show this year.

Nicola Adams has been partnered with Katya Jones for 'Strictly Come Dancing'. (BBC)
Nicola Adams has been partnered with Katya Jones for 'Strictly Come Dancing'. (BBC)

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She said: “In the ballroom world, there are same-sex partnerships and same-sex competitions, so it's a really normal thing, you know?

“I've always taught as a lead and a follower, so this doesn't feel like anything extra. I'm just really excited to get someone whose work ethic is out of this world - she's so used to training hard.

“For me, that's all I look for in a partner. We're two strong-minded women and we're going to be a powerhouse together. And, you know, dancing is dancing.”

Watch: Why Steph McGovern said no to ‘Strictly’