Conservatives suspend candidate who called for gay people to face the death penalty

Just a week before the local elections, the Conservatives have been forced to suspend a candidate over homophobic blog posts that called for gay people to face the death penalty.

Matthew Clarke is the Conservative candidate for the Lib Dem-held Manor ward seat on Stevenage Council in the local elections set to take place on May 3.

But Clarke, who has run as a local Conservative candidate on at least two previous occasions, was suspended by the party this week after it was revealed he had penned blog posts calling for gay people to face the death penalty.

The candidate, who has described himself as a “fundamentalist Christian,” made the remarks in a 2005 blog post exposed this week by Labour activist Jo Phillips.

Published under the name Matthew Celestine, he wrote: “When such behaviour is tolerated in a land it can only expect to see God’s judgment.”

He added: “In my experience, most people believe that such behaviour is wrong and disgusting. They would be ashamed for their children to behave in that way, but they would never admit it for fear of being accused of bigotry.

“Why should we tolerate such behaviour? If these people think that what they do is decent and good, they are either insane or utterly corrupt morally.

“If a man would do the awful things that homosexuals do, we can only expect that he would steal, take drugs or murder people.

“There is only one penalty in the Bible for such deeds. Death.”

File photo. A delegate at the Conservative Party Conference (Carl Court/Getty)

The Stevenage Conservatives confirmed to local newspaper The Comet that Clarke has now been suspended pending investigation.

As it is too late to officially alter the party’s candidates, however, he will still appear on the ballot paper for the local elections next week.

File photo. A supporter’s Conservative rosette (Bethany Clarke/Getty Images)

Clarke told the newspaper: “I would like to express deep regret for the offensive comments I made 13 years ago.

“I offer my unreserved apologies for any hurt caused by that blog post and I would like to stress that I have moved on and am no longer the angry and bitter person that I was in 2005.”

The row comes days after a Labour candidate in Milton Keynes was forced to apologise for sharing a video from a Muslim preacher criticising homosexuality.

The candidate came under fire from his Conservative rivals over a video in which a preacher warns: “These are the days your Prophet warned you about… when intoxicants are consumed in the most despicable way, and illegal sexuality becomes okay.”

Labour candidate Kashif Raza apologised for sharing a video, saying: “As we do too often today, I shared the video without watching the full content of it and I do not agree with it. I have learnt from this experience and will make sure to apply due level of scrutiny before sharing things on social media in the future.”