Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron resigns, citing 'scrutiny of religious views' after gay rights stance

Britain's Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron announced his resignation on Wednesday, citing scrutiny of his religious views over gay rights during the recent general election campaign

AFP June 15, 2017 09:55:01 IST
Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron resigns, citing 'scrutiny of religious views' after gay rights stance

London: Britain's Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron announced his resignation on Wednesday, citing scrutiny of his religious views over gay rights during the recent general election campaign.

"To be a political leader... and to live as a committed Christian, to hold faithfully to the Bible's teaching, has felt impossible for me," he said.

Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron resigns citing scrutiny of religious views after gay rights stance

File image of Tim Farron. AFP

Farron, 47, said he had felt "torn" between political and religious life after facing questioning over whether he agreed with his party's positive view of same-sex unions.

A father of four, Farron was elected leader of the Liberal Democrats in July 2015 after the party, which had been in a coalition with the ruling Conservatives, was nearly wiped out in the general election, losing 48 seats.

However, the party created a surprise in last week's snap election, increasing their number of MPs from nine to 12, after campaigning for a second referendum on the terms of Brexit.

But Farron's stance on gay rights grabbed headlines very  early on the campaign and he was asked to clarify whether he thought being gay was a sin after a 2015 interview resurfaced in which he had given an evasive answer.

"At the start of this election, I found myself under scrutiny again; asked about matters to do with my faith. I felt guilty that this focus was distracting attention from our campaign, obscuring our message," he said on Wednesday. "I seem to be the subject of suspicion because of what I believe and who my faith is in," he added.

Voting records show that Farron, an evangelical Christian, voted to allow registrars not to carry out gay marriages if they object on religious grounds.

He also voted against the Equality Act Regulations, which criminalised many types of discrimination against gay people back in 2007, opposing his party's official stance.

Former business secretary Vince Cable, Ed Davey, a former energy and climate change secretary and Jo Swinson, are the favourites to replace him.

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