Tim Farron urged to resign after passing ‘transphobic dogwhistles’ to government ministers

Emma Powys Maurice
·3-min read

Former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron is facing calls to resign after he allegedly passed “anti-trans dogwhistles” to senior government ministers.

It has emerged that Farron, who is known for his multiple, misguided attacks on the LGBT+ community, contacted the Minister for Prisons and Probation and the Minister for Women and Equalities to raise a constituent’s concerns about “single-sex spaces in women’s prisons”.

The MP was condemned for his apparent willingness to uncritically regurgitate this harmful hyperbole, which is commonly based in the transphobic trope that trans women pose a threat to cis women.

In reality there are no more than 11 trans women in UK women’s prisons, according to a 2019 MOJ report. Official figures show that a tiny minority of sexual assaults in women’s prisons are actually perpetrated by trans inmates, while a trans woman is the victim of a sexual assault in a men’s prison almost every month.

“It’s time for Tim to go,” said Luke Graham, co-chair of the Lib Dem-affiliated Radical Association, who told PinkNews that Farron’s repeated LGBT+ attacks have “shamed him and this party”.

“It is clear that he no longer cares for the liberal values our party represents. He continues to treat LGBT+ members and our community with contempt,” he said. “This latest episode is just one in a long line of homophobic and transphobic actions.”

Graham called on Lib Dem leader Ed Davey and chief whip Wendy Chamberlain to remove the whip from Tim Farron “with immediate effect”.

“Enough is enough, LGBT+ members shouldn’t have to suffer Tim Farron any more,” he added.

Kobe Bibbon, the trans representative for the Liberal Democrats’ youth wing, told PinkNews this anger was shared by several other LGBT+ members of the party.

“Tim should not have been so supportive in what was clearly an anti-trans dogwhistle sent to him,” they said, suggesting he could have instead used the opportunity to stand up for his trans, non-binary and gender diverse party members, or at very least consider how they would feel.

“He has shown no remorse nor has he apologised despite knowing the deep upset and frustration he has yet again caused, and instead he decided to tweet about the football rather than addressing the matter.

“I have written to the leader, president and chief whip of the Liberal Democrats requesting that the Liberal Democrat whip is removed from Tim immediately – for every day he remains a Lib Dem MP, it is a day of upset and worry for members, specifically LGBT+ members.”

A letter seen by PinkNews from Tim Farron states that he is “more than happy” to raise the concern about “single-sex spaces in women’s prisons” and confirms he has written to both the Minister for Prisons and Probation and the Minister for Women and Equalities.

PinkNews has contacted Tim Farron for comment.

Tim Farron’s anti-LGBT+ record

Tim Farron’s two-year stint as party leader was marred by accusations of homophobia as he refused to answer whether he believed homosexual sex to be a sin.

He evaded the questions for weeks during the 2017 general election campaign before attempting to salvage his reputation at the height of the row by telling the BBC that he did not view gay sex as a sin.

He resigned shortly after the election result, saying that he felt “remaining faithful to Christ” was incompatible with leading the party. He later admitted that he had misled the public when he said he didn’t believe gay sex was sinful.

Reflecting on the backlash he received for this opinion, Farron later suggested that being anti-gay is the modern equivalent of being anti-slavery.

He further tarnished his reputation in 2020, when he was revealed to have accepted £75,000 from an evangelical group whose director voiced support for traumatising gay conversion therapy.

Days later, he published a controversial blog post arguing that liberals should be fighting for JK Rowling’s right to express anti-trans views.