Newly elected Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has come under fire after repeatedly avoiding answering whether he considers gay sex to be a sin.
In a live TV interview with Channel 4 news on Friday night, Farron avoided giving a direct answer to the question three times, instead saying that understanding Christianity is “to understand that we are all sinners”.
Although the Lib Dem leader has been pressed on the issue in several interviews over the weekend, he has still refused to say whether he considers homosexual sex to be a sin.
On Sunday, Labour MP Ben Bradshaw criticised Farron’s position as “illiberal”:
As a gay Christian I can't understand why Tim Farron can't answer a straight question does he consider sex in same sex relationships sinful?— Ben Bradshaw (@BenPBradshaw) July 19, 2015
In an interview with Sky News, Farron said that he supported equality under law and equal dignity, “and that includes people, whatever their sexuality. So, I’m a liberal to my fingertips.”
@93Brady I've said love is love. Simple as.— Tim Farron (@timfarron) July 19, 2015
Farron voted against the equality bill in 2007, and abstained from the same-sex marriage bill in 2013 - something he today says that he regrets.
“It is important to be very, very clear that I voted for the legalisation of equal marriage and support it, and will fight very hard against any attempts to water it down – which there might be,” he told The Observer.
Farron voted the way he did to protect people’s right to conscience.
I definitely regret it, if people have misread that and think that means I’m lukewarm on equal marriage.
The pressure over Farron’s views on gay rights come just three days after he was elected as the new Lib Dem leader to replace Nick Clegg.