Stephen Crabb, who voted against same-sex marriage, claims ‘it’s not an issue’ in leadership race

Conservative leadership candidate Stephen Crabb has insisted his vote against same-sex marriage is “not an issue” in the race to become the next Prime Minister.

The Conservative Party is currently in the process of nominating candidates to replace David Cameron as party leader.

Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb today confirmed he would make a bid for the highest office, officially announcing his candidacy for Tory leader and PM.

The leadership hopeful voted against same-sex marriage legislation for England and Wales in 2013, though his running mate for deputy ,Sajid Javid, voted in favour.

Mr Crabb is also known to have ties to the Christian Action Research and Education (CARE), an anti-LGBT evangelical organisation which advocates ‘gay cure’ therapy.

Mr Crabb entered politics as an intern for CARE, and his office has also taken interns from the group – though he has disavowed any ‘gay cure’ links.

In a press conference today, Mr Crabb said he stood by his vote on equal marriage, and his record is  “not an issue” in the election to become the next leader of the Conservative Party because the issue had been decided in the previous parliament and he was “happy” with the outcome.

Asked whether he harbours anti-LGBT views, he said: “Let’s deal with that one head on: absolutely not.

“We had a debate in the last Parliament about gay marriage, I voted the way I did, but I’m very happy with the outcome.

“That issue is now settled, we move on from it and I’m absolutely committed to doing my bit to create a tolerant, decent society for everybody regardless of their background, regardless of their sexuality.

“That is not an issue in this leadership campaign.”

British Humanists previously branded Mr Crabb “an enemy of reason [who] appears to hold dangerously homophobic opinions”.

Mr Crabb appeared unrepentant in an interview with the Mail two months ago, claiming he has “great gay friends” but stood by his vote because he disagreed with “forcing churches to change their core doctrine to comply” with the law – despite explicit religious protections in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act .

He said last year: “It wasn’t a clear-cut vote for me, but I don’t regret any vote I’ve taken.”

A source close to one cabinet minister told PinkNews yesterday: “Stephen Crabb still hasn’t apologised for opposing same-sex marriage, one of David Cameron’s key legacies.”

The last time PinkNews reported Mr Crabb’s links to CARE, he complained in an interview with a local news outlet: “Within minutes of me being appointed there were people on social media saying ‘oh he’s got links to gay cure he must be homophobic’ and somebody had mocked up a picture of me with a quote reported to have come from me saying ‘being gay is a disease which needs a cure’ and that’s complete crap.

“I’ve never believed that and it’s not what I believe now.

“Whatever personal beliefs I have, religious or otherwise, homophobia is not a part of it and I don’t believe in gay cure therapy.

“Yes I’m a Christian, I’ve got very clear views on that but believing in gay cure therapies is not what I believe and has never been what I believe.”

However, he has a close alliance with out Scottish Tory Ruth Davidson, who has defended him and previously hinted that she would back his run.

Earlier this week, PinkNews released a 10-point plan of issues on which all Tory leadership candidates must agree to keep momentum going on LGBT rights.