Tim Farron: Fighting for LGBT rights is ‘top of my agenda’

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has vowed to fight for LGBT rights, saying they are “top of his agenda”.

Farron, who was last week elected as leader of the Liberal Democrats, was criticised after he refused to answer a question three times, when directly asked if he believes gay sex is a sin.

Speaking to Andrew Marr on the BBC today, Mr Farron said: “I’m not a religious leader. My faith is my own. If asked about it I’m up front… ”

When asked his response to people saying they were concerned about his commitment to gay rights, or same-sex marriage, he went on: “I am a liberal and I absolutely support equality and am passionate about LGBT rights. As the leader of a liberal party, that is something which will be at the top of my agenda throughout the time I am the leader of our party.

“One area is that for example, transgender people don’t have the same rights as others on equal marriage because of the so-called spousal veto…”

When asked by Mr Marr why he voted against the Equality Bill, he responded: “The protection of individual liberties.”

Mr Farron had previously spoken openly about his poor voting record on equality legislation in a PinkNews interview, saying that he “regrets anything that gives people the wrong impression”.

The politician claimed he voted against the Programme Motion on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act, because he was trying to secure more time to discuss trans issues.

He was also forced to apologise to rights campaigner Peter Tatchell – after claiming Mr Tatchell agreed with his decision to vote against 2008’s Sexual Orientation Regulations.

When challenged on his opposition, he claimed that “Peter Tatchell was on the same side as me” – but Mr Tatchell, a veteran campaigner for of LGBT rights, was actually a vocal supporter of the Act.

Making pledges on LGBT issues going forward, Mr Farron said: “On LGBT+ issues, how do you follow it? I’ll give you three things I’m very keen we do.

“One, when it comes to the equal marriage legislation, I think we really missed a trick on trans issues. On the spousal veto, I think it’s an appalling thing that one person is allowed to block another person’s freedom. We should be making that a priority.

“Secondly, it strikes me as deeply troubling is that there was no regulation of psychotherapists in the UK for quack conversion therapy.

“Thirdly, we’ve got to end the gay blood ban, which is a disgrace. My pledge to you is that my first opposition day bill will be getting rid of the gay blood ban. All of these things need to be based on the science, not on prejudice.”