Tim Farron’s gay best friend defends Lib Dem leader on LGBT rights

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Tim Farron’s childhood best friend has opened up about coming out to the leader as gay after a row.

Tim Farron, the leader of the pro-European Liberal Democrat party, came under fire last month in a row over gay sex.

In an interview with Channel 4, Mr Farron was asked if he believes gay sex is sinful, but refused to answer the question. He dodged the same question in multiple interviews for a full week.

The row was eventually put to bed in an interview with the BBC, when Mr Farron explained he doesn’t think gay sex is a sin.

Tim Farron

Today, Tim Farron’s childhood best friend Ian opened up about coming out to the leader as gay.

Speaking to ITV, Ian explained: “Tim is probably my best friend. I’ve known him for 30 odd years. He’s the first person I came out to as gay when I was 19.”

Of coming out as gay to Tim, he said: “He absolutely took it in his stride.”

He added: “It has never been an issue and he always absolutely makes me feel welcome and my own personal experience is that he isn’t homophobic and that he is absolutely liberal in his values.”

Asked about his friend, Mr Farron said: “He’s been my mate since I was 11 or 12. He’s been one of my best mates since 14. What can I say?

“We were on holiday together with my mum and my sister. He’d been a great mate to me and was also a friend of the family, and he told me he was gay.

“Was I surprised? Probably not really. Was I expecting it? No. How did I feel? Genuinely moved that he trusted me.”

He denied that allowing the gay sex row to erupt had been a misjudgement.

He said: “I think real judgement is believing that personal and private faith is just that.

“I think most people believe that in politics and in all life people’s personal faith is just that and it is not right for us to force that on other people, nor to be forced into a position where one has to talk about the intricate details.

“But I am determined to build a country, to lead a country where LGBT rights are absolutely central to it.”

On Friday, PinkNews reported that the Lib Dems were using an aggressive targeted digital advertising campaign to fight back after the row over party leader Tim Farron’s views on gay sex.

Lib Dem ads appeared to be targeted at LGBT users and websites to promote a positive view of the leader’s record on LGBT equality – decreasing search traffic to recent articles critical of Mr Farron.

Since our report, the ad campaign appears to have been discontinued.

The full interview will be broadcast on ITV at 8pm on Monday.