Lib Dem leader Tim Farron called a 'disgrace' after refusing to say if being gay is a sin

William Watkinson
How gay people are being persecuted in Chechnya

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has been labelled a "disgrace" after again refusing to say whether he believes being gay is a sin.

Farron, who today Tuesday (18 April) began his campaign to challenge Theresa May in the UK's snap election provisionally scheduled for 8 June, was interviewed by Channel 4's Cathy Newman.

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A devout Christian, the MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, has come previously come under some scrutiny for his religious views.

In a previous interview with the same channel in 2015, Farron refused to answer when asked three times whether he thought homosexuality to be a sin.

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Despite expressing his support for equal LGBT rights since becoming party leader, Farron was again non-committal when pressed on his personal beliefs over sexuality.

Newman said: "I asked you whether it was true that you believed homosexuality was a sin, and you struggled to answer.

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"Now you've had a while to consider that question, what is the answer?"

Farron replied: "I'm not in a position to go making theological pronouncements. Over the next six weeks I'm not going to spend my time talking theology."

The Preston-born 46-year-old continued: "As a liberal I'm passionate about equality, about equal marriage, about equal rights for LGBT people, for fighting not just for LGBT rights not just in this country but overseas.

"Just because I'm Christian, it would be a bit boring for everyone spending the next six weeks asking me to make theological pronouncements. I am not planning to do so."

Farron, who replaced Nick Clegg as leader of the UK political party in 2015, replied in a previous interview with Newman that "we're all sinners".

In response to the footage, gay Guardian columnist Owen Jones wrote on Twitter: "This is an absolute disgrace. But hey, I'm just some sinning gay, what would I know."

While former Great British Bake Off host Sue Perkins tweeted: "Tim Farron failing to clarify his views on the gay community. It's 2017."

Farron showed support for LGBT causes in a speech marking marking LGBT History Month in January.

"I am proud to lead a party that is accepting of anyone, regardless of their race, faith, gender, background or sexual orientation.

"The Liberal Democrats will always stand with the community in building and safeguarding a society that is open, tolerant and united," he said.

And last week in an interview with PinkNews, a gay news website, Farron spoke out against the persecution of gay people in Chechnya.

He told PinkNews: "These reports from Chechnya are truly horrifying, and represent an extreme manifestation of increasing homophobic brutality and intolerance in Putin's Russia.

"The UK government must strongly condemn this disgusting violence, and use every possibly opportunity to raise this with the Russian government, as well as in the UN and other international bodies."

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