Theresa May defends Tory candidate who penned homophobic blog posts

PinkNews logo with white background and rainbow corners

Theresa May has defended a Tory candidate who failed to turn up to his local LGBT hustings after it emerged he once penned a string of homophobic blog posts.

34-year-old Peter Cuthbertson is the Conservative candidate for Darlington in next week’s election.

However, his campaign was rocked by a Guardian report, which questioned a series of shocking comments he made on his internet blog ‘Conservative Commentary’.

Peter Cuthbertson

In a entry from 2002, Cuthbertson argued that when considering allegations of sexual assault, “it is relevant how promiscuous a woman is” in order to determine “how likely it was she consented”.

Further blogs dated 2004, when Cuthbertson was in his early 20s, rail strongly against LGBT rights.

One blog praises a “courageous priest jailed in Sweden for preaching against homosexuality”, while others found by PinkNews claim gay identity politics is “antithetical to any conservative vision”.

That post takes aim at the women’s movement, ethnic minorities and LGBT activists, claiming that they would continue to “make ever more absurd claims about victim status… becom[ing] more shrill, more extreme, more vicious”.

It cites same-sex adoption as an example, adding: “One council’s document, written in co-operation with a homosexual lobby group… advertises – advertises – the fact that it is handing over half of its adopted children to homosexual and lesbian couples and has struck off the adoption register those couples who believe a child needs a mother and a father.”

He added: “That this was these people’s idea of positive propaganda says it all (…)  Conservatives who believe a lasting compromise is possible are kidding themselves.”

The Spectator article he referenced was referring to a policy by Brighton and Hove Council to permit adoption by same-sex couples.

Other blog posts take aim at Gene Robinson, the first openly gay US Episcopal bishop.

Cuthbertson lashed out at him for “accepting the seals of office while stood next to the man he shacked up with after abandoning the woman he married and the children they brought into the world”.

Challenged on some of the comments this week, the Conservative candidate told the Guardian that he “definitely does not have all the same views as my adolescent self”.

He added: “I recall I was supportive of military intervention in Iraq and of Section 28 then – not positions I now hold On my views today, I strongly support the Conservative party manifesto.”

However, Mr Cuthbertson failed to turn up to a local LGBT debate last night after the newspaper’s report.

He was empty-chaired at the event, leading to ribbing from his Labour opponents.

Darlington is a key target seat for the party. Labour’s Jenny Chapman had a majority of just 3,158 in 2015.

Theresa May, who has personally made trips to the constituency to campaign for the candidate, dismissed criticism of him today.

Responding to a press question, she insisted: “Peter has made clear that his views have changed.”

But Labour’s Andrew Gwynne called for the candidate to quit.

He said: “Peter Cuthbertson clearly has no place in parliament and should stand down immediately. Theresa May should be far more careful about picking who should be in her supposed team.”

The long-serving Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight recently dropped out of his re-election bid after it emerged that he made allegedly homophobic comments to children during a school visit.

Other Tory candidates have faced scrutiny for their ties to strongly anti-LGBT evangelicals.

One Conservative candidate recently insisted she “stands by” her decision to accept an intern from a group that advocates gay ‘cure’ therapy.