LGBT+ Labour urges politicians to stop visiting homophobic churches after Keir Starmer backlash

Keir Starmer

Labour’s LGBT+ group has called on leaders to stop visiting churches that hold anti-LGBTQ+ views, after Keir Starmer did so over Easter weekend for a second time. 

In a statement, LGBT+ Labour recommended that all politicians, parties and leaders visit the “fantastic queer inclusive churches” which are out there, to see “their community and charity outreach work”. 

The veiled comment comes after Labour leader Starmer visited church leaders in Manchester during the Easter weekend to hear about the work they do supporting people with the cost-of-living crisis, as well as the importance of Easter to Christian communities. 

A video of Starmer meeting with the religious leaders was subsequently shared on his Twitter account and it was quickly noted that it featured Glyn Barrett, a senior pastor at !Audacious Church

Research by PinkNews revealed Barrett as a national leader of Great Britain’s branch of the World Assemblies of God Fellowship – the world’s largest pentecostal denomination – a member of the Evangelical Alliance council and a contributor to anti-gay megachurch Hillsong

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) Connections website links Barrett to Hillsong and the Billy Graham Association, an organisation that describes homosexuality as a lifestyle choice and a sexual sin.

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Hillsong has faced several controversies for its views on LGBTQ+ people, including saying it does not affirm “gay lifestyles” and that same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage are not compatible with Biblical scripture.

Both Assemblies of God and the Evangelical Alliance also hold controversial views on LGBTQ+ issues, including describing same-sex relations as “unbiblical” and marriage being only for for one man and one woman.  

In response to Keir Starmer meeting with another contentious religious figure – he also did so in 2021 – LGBT+ Labour said “political platforms should never be used to further exclude those already marginalised in faith”. 

The LGBTQ+ group stated that inclusive churches have a “wide spectrum of people and voters” who Labour need to convince that it is “the party of equality and human rights including LGBTQ+ rights if it is to form the next government”. 

During Easter 2021, Keir Starmer had to issue an apology after visiting Jesus House, a church in London well-known for its anti-LGBTQ+ views

Jesus House has faced allegations of carrying out conversion therapy in the past – something it denies –and the pastor, Agu Irukwu, vehemently opposes LGBTQ+ rights including same-sex marriage. the faith centre has also compared homosexuality to bestiality. 

In addition, Irukwu is associated with the Evangelical Alliance.

It is understood by PinkNews that Labour is now “aware” of Barrett’s links to Hillsong and has reaffirmed its commitment to banning so-called conversion therapy. 

Labour, however, repeatedly declined to officially comment on the matter.  

The party, instead, provided PinkNews with a statement from Stuart Keir, the chairman of the Audacious Foundation. 

“The Audacious Foundation is a charity established by the Audacious Church to provide practical support to people in need across the community, regardless of background, faith, ethnicity, gender or sexuality,” he said. 

“Neither Audacious Foundation nor Audacious Church support or engage in any type of ministry or activity that is coercive or manipulative. Audacious Church is not part of Hillsong Church.”

PinkNews has also contacted !Audacious Church and Glyn Barrett for further comment.