Sir Ian McKellen: It makes no sense for gay people to back Brexit

Sir Ian McKellen has reaffirmed his support for the UK staying in the EU – claiming it makes “no sense” for gay people to back Brexit.

The legendary actor made the comments to the Telegraph, arguing that the UK needs to use its influence within the EU to lobby for LGBT rights around the world.

The X-Men star said: “Now is the time to be backing Europe and giving back that sense of empowerment to countries in the European Union that are still very backward in this regard.

“If I were to look at ‘in’ or ‘out’ from that point of view, there’s only one point, which is to stay.

“If you’re a gay person, you’re an internationalist. I don’t want us to retract. I don’t want to and I won’t, whatever the vote happens to be.

“It wouldn’t be the end of the world, but it’s nearly the end of my life. And it’s up to the youngsters to decide, really.”

It comes after Crispin Blunt, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, wrote for PinkNews accusing the ‘In’ campaign of scaremongering on LGBT rights.

He warned that people were “being taken for mugs” if they believed that LGBT equality would be impacted by the June 23 referendum.

Equalities minister Nicky Morgan previously told PinkNews that leaving the EU would cause a ‘legal tangle’ of LGBT rights legislation, due to the way EU law is written into anti-discrimination protections.

Mr Blunt had written:  “There may be some who seek to confuse by muddling up the EU and ECHR, and try to say that by leaving one we might leave the other, and Brexit would mean the end of the ECHR protections for the UK. They claim further the position on equality might change in the UK, and we would then need the ECHR protections.

“If this argument, is pedalled you are being treated as a mug and you should ask some hard questions about why it would suit its proponents to treat you as too dim to work out the difference when presented with the facts and painting preposterously unlikely scenarios.”

Nicky Morgan also contended: “Equalities don’t stop at the British shore.

“As members of the EU, we are able to influence other EU member states and wider countries, using our powers as a group with the EU, to influence countries where there may be discrimination.

“LGBT people tell me that they feel their relationship is respected here in the UK, but when they go overseas they can’t always feel comfortable. That’s something we can change.”