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18 July 2015

The new Lib Dem leader Tim Farron refuses to say whether he believes gay sex is a sin

The new Lib Dem leader, who is a Christian, has been criticised for his stance on abortion and gay marriage. On Friday Channel 4's Cathy Newman asked him three times if he believed that gay sex was sinful. 

By New Statesman

Tim Farron has refused to say whether he believes gay sex is sinful. Asked three times by Channel 4 News’s Cathy Newman, the new Lib Dem leader said that he believed everyone was a sinner. “Perhaps the Bible phrase that I use most – particularly with my kids, but actually on myself – is ‘You don’t pick out the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye when there is a plank in your own’.”

 

The leader, who was elected on Thursday, has been criticised for his voting record on gay marriage, his description of abortion as a “tragedy” alongside votes to restrict access to terminations, and his assertion that prayer can heal. He abstained on a stage of the gay marriage bill, saying that he was worried about exemptions for faith groups. He also signed a letter challenging the Advertising Standards Association to prove that there was scientific evidence that “God can heal people from medical conditions”, although he has since added that he believed the letter’s wording was wrong.

In 2007, he told the Salvation Army magazine War Cry that “abortion is wrong. Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing morally objectionable about abortion before a certain time. If abortion is wrong, it is wrong at any time.” But he added that “the standards that define my personal morality as a Christian are not the standards of public morality”. He has since said that he would vote for equal marriage, and would follow “the science” on abortion time limits. Asked yesterday about the controversy, he referred to former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy’s Catholic faith to stress he saw no conflict between Christian beliefs and the leadership of a liberal party.

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During the campaign, his rival Norman Lamb apologised for “push polling” after his staffers asked potential voters questions about whether they would support Farron as a candidate given his views.