Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron was forced to forgo his faith to pacify the belligerent left – so much for human rights, argues online editor Kimberley John.

Two weeks ago in Parliament Farron said he does not think homosexuality is a sin. The incessant debate surrounding personal views he is entitled to hold, and which he states do not interfere with his role, highlighted more the hypocrisy of the left than that of the actual accusations.

It would have been a mistake to assume that Channel 4 newsreader Cathy Newman’s question to Farron in 2015 – whether as a Christian he believed homosexual sex to be sinful – would not haunt him.

At the time his answer was deemed evasive by most and, when in the spotlight again thanks to Theresa May’s call for a snap election, he was asked to clarify his position. But why are his personal convictions deemed so important?

“It’s a peculiar thing to say that somebody who happens to belong to a religious group, who is a Christian, can’t be a liberal. It’s exactly the opposite,” Farron responded in 2015.

He said: “To be a member of a minority group of any kind is to understand in a very clear way why every minority, every individual’s rights matter.”

Farron’s human right to freedom of religion was impinged.

Responding to Newman pressing the issue in April, Farron said: “As a Liberal, I’m passionate about equality, about equal marriage, about equal rights for LGBT people, for fighting for not just LGBT rights in this country but overseas.”

When looking at his political career it is clear that his words ring true. He has continually voted for same-sex marriage – except for one absence – and has proudly upheld the Lib Dem’s pro-LGBT stance.

However, this consistency in his public life was not enough for celebrities, commentators, politicians and the left-leaning public alike, who labelled Farron as intolerant, prejudiced and, in the words of Owen Jones, an “absolute disgrace”.

It is not a stretch for me to assume that the same people who attacked Farron for his presumed personal faith while refusing to acknowledge his active solidarity with the LGBT community are actually of a similar persuasion to him in terms of human rights.

The Liberal Democrats are in favour of the 1998 Human Rights Act, alongside left-wing parties Labour and the Greens.

Article 9 of the Act concerns the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and states that among other factors everyone has the right to exercise religion or belief publicly or privately.

Yet Farron’s human right to freedom of religion was impinged because the unnecessary controversy centred around his assumed views on homosexuality left him with no choice but to answer intrusive questions about his own private belief system just to put an end to it all.

It’s hard to reconcile being vehemently pro-human rights one minute but equally against them the next when the person or group in question doesn’t share your sentiments. How exhausting that must be.

Comment pieces are the view of the author and in no way reflect the views of Forge Press.

Image by Alex Folkes

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