Former MP Ann Widdecombe has denied she is homophobic, claiming the “melodramatic” media has repeatedly misquoted her.
The “social conservative” has made countless anti-LGBT+ comments over the course of several decades, while she repeatedly voted against any advancements in LGBT+ rights during her time as an MP.
“People often say the press is biased. I’ll tell you what the press is biased in favour of, it’s not the left or the right, it’s melodrama,” Ann Widdecombe said when asked about allegations that she is homophobic.
“They always want melodrama, they want headlines, they want gotcha moments, they want car crash interviews, that’s what they want and that’s what they go for.
“There was one particular controversy – there have been several – but there was one particular controversy on the subject that you mention where they actually had the gall to quote me correctly between the inverted commas, absolutely correctly, and then add two words at the end and claim that’s what I said.
“Now because they put the words outside the inverted commas I could never have sued them because they didn’t claim I said them. But they put them in there and when I was campaigning during the 2019 election I was confronted with this by a nice young man, a student, and I said, ‘Hang on, look at where the inverted commas are,’ and he looked, and he said, ‘Oh yes.’
“And I did exactly the same when people wrote to me… I wrote back and said, ‘Look at what I said, look where the inverted commas are, go and watch the actual interview,’ and a few did have the grace to come back and apologise.”
Widdecombe went on to tell Nicholls that her “biggest support” has always come from her gay friends “who were all leaving messages for me saying, ‘Oh what rot.’”
She went on to use her friendship with gay broadcaster Iain Dale as evidence that she is not homophobic.
Ann Widdecombe thinks ‘unhappy homosexuals’ can become straight
Over the course of her long political career, Ann Widdecombe has repeatedly faced backlash from the LGBT+ community for her troubling comments and views.
In 2012, she said “unhappy homosexuals” were being “denied any chance whatever” to “become heterosexual” by LGBT+ activists. “If anybody turns to a properly qualified practitioner for help there must be a presumption that he or she can get it,” she wrote.
“It is not a state crime to want to change one’s sexual leanings. Yet.”
In 2019, Ann Widdecombe said “science may yet produce” a cure for homosexuality while she was running as a Brexit Party MP.
Her voting record as an MP was no better. She voted against legislative amendments that would have advanced queer people’s rights on 15 occasions, while she was absent twice.
During her time in parliament, Widdecombe voted against the repeal of Section 28, the harsh and degrading law that prohibited the promotion of homosexuality in schools. She also voted against the equalisation of the age of consent for gay people.
In 2014, she expressed her opposition to same-sex marriage, telling The Guardian that heterosexual marriage had served society “throughout the millennia”.
“Marriage isn’t about two people; it is the basis for the family. That’s why it’s unique, and therefore I think society can say we’re keeping marriage for a man and a woman.”