Jacob Rees-Mogg hits out at liberal ‘bigotry’ as he faces questions on same-sex marriage

Jacob Rees Mogg

Rumoured Conservative leadership hopeful Jacob Rees-Mogg has said that critics of his anti-gay beliefs are “bigots” because he is a Catholic.

Rees-Mogg, who is considered a frontrunner in the next race for the Conservative Party leadership, has been a prominent opponent of LGBT equality, saying in 2013 that he chooses to be “whipped” by the Catholic Church rather than by his party on the issue.

The prominent backbench MP repeatedly criticised former Prime Minister David Cameron for introducing same-sex marriage, telling supporters: “I’m not proud that this government passed that into law.”

The Brexit-backing MP was interviewed on the BBC’s Daily Politics on Tuesday (May 22), but quickly grew defensive in the face of questions about his anti-gay marriage views.

He said: “Electorates have a right to know as much about the people who stand for election as possible, so they can form a full view.”

When asked about his beliefs, he said: “This is an issue of sacramentality. Sacrament of marriage is one that is defined by the church, not the state.

“The sacrament of marriage is available to a man and a woman, this is the teaching of the Catholic Church which I accept.”

When BBC host Jo Coburn continued to press about whether a potential leader could hold such beliefs on same-sex marriage, Rees-Mogg turned the tables on the line of questioning.

He said: “Do you believe in religious tolerance? Why do you pick on this view of the Catholic Church?

“Why do you pick on the views on the Catholic Church and suggest you can’t hold these in politics?”

When Coburn protested, he continued: “That’s exactly what you implied.

“You’re saying that tolerance only goes so far, and you shouldn’t be tolerant of the teaching of the Catholic Church. Isn’t this stretching into religious bigotry?”

Rees-Mogg continued: “This is really important to get to the heart of, because this country believes in religious tolerance.

“The act of tolerance is to tolerate things you don’t agree with, not just ones you do agree with. The problem with liberal tolerance is it’s gotten to the point of only tolerating what it likes.

“The Catholic Church has taught these things, and it is absolutely legitimate for Catholics to believe and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church, as it is for Muslims to believe the teachings of Islam and likewise for Anglicans.

“I make no bones about the fact that I’m a practising Catholic and believe in the teaching of the Catholic Church.”

He added that people who disagree with him are “absolutely entitled to disagree” with him, clarifying: “It is up to the British voters to decide this. The voters are entitled to vote for whoever he or she chooses.”

Rees-Mogg refused to say that he supported the law on same-sex marriage as it currently is, instead pointing out there is no majority in Parliament to change it.

He said: “The law is not going to be changed… the issue is about what society thinks.

“I don’t think changing the law when society overwhelmingly believes something different is achievable.

“The law on gay marriage is now the settled will of Parliament and is not going to change.”

Rees-Mogg previously admitted he had not written to Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, a married lesbian, to congratulate her on her pregnancy.

Asked if he had congratulated Davidson in a Sky News interview, Rees-Mogg admitted: “I meant to write to her, I haven’t yet done it. I think it’s wonderful news, absolutely joyous news.”

He added: “It’s wonderful, happy news, and a new life always is.”

Asked if that conflicts with his personal beliefs, he only answered: “New life is always good news.”

The Conservative Party’s LGBT group, the LGBT+ Conservatives, previously branded Rees-Mogg a “disgrace” and shared a message that said “Retweet if you’re against Jacob Rees-Mogg as Prime Minister in any circumstances”.