Gay MP Mike Freer to step down over safety fears after arson attack and death threats
Conservative MP Mike Freer has decided to step down at the next general election after an arson attack on his constituency office and receiving death threats.
Last year, Freer, who is gay, called on his own party to end “toxic” debates over LGBTQ+ issues, stating that human rights are “not debatable” in this day and age.
The MP came out to colleagues in 2013 during a parliamentary debates on marriage equality, in a moving speech which landed him a PinkNews Award that same year. He entered a civil partnership with his partner in 2007, which the pair converted to a marriage in 2015.
As MP for Finchley and Golders Green since 2010, he has faced a series of death threats and was even targeted by Ali Harbi Ali, the man who murdered Southend West MP Sir David Amess in 2021.
Freer revealed that he and his staff began wearing stab vests at public events after they learned Ali had watched his Finchley office before stabbing Amess at a constituency surgery. An arson attack in December was the “final straw”.
Speaking to the Daily Mail, Freer added: “There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much. I was very lucky that actually on the day [of Ali’s attempted attack] I was due to be in Finchley, I happened to change my plans and came into Whitehall.
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”Otherwise, who knows whether I would have been attacked or survived an attack. He said he came to Finchley to attack me.”
The 63-year-old parliamentary under-secretary for courts and legal services said the chance that he could have been killed remains on his mind, and that there had been further threats, from a group calling themselves Muslims Against Crusades, “about coming to stab me”.
He also found “mock Molotov cocktails on the office steps”.
Freer won his seat, formally part of Margaret Thatcher’s constituency, with a majority of just over 6,500 in 2019. He was appointed as an equalities minister in 2021 under former prime minister Boris Johnson, before resigning the following year, citing the “atmosphere of hostility for LGBT+ people” created by Johnson’s government.
“I can no longer defend policies I fundamentally disagree with”, he wrote in his resignation letter.
Freer won a second PinkNews Award in 2016 for ‘Member of the Year’ and has regularly championed LGBTQ+ issues during his time in parliament, campaigning for gay male teenagers to be offered the HPV vaccination, calling for poppers to be removed from a blanket Government ban on ‘legal highs’ and challenging NHS England on its decision not to fund HIV-preventing PrEP drugs.
He joins a number of MPs who have said they will not be standing at the next general election, which is expected later this year.
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