A Tory MP has stood down hours after he reportedly told students being gay was “wrong” and “dangerous to society”.
Andrew Turner, who represents the Isle of Wight, made the comments to a group of sixth form students at Christ the King College in Newport on Friday morning.
He was asked whether he was involved in Isle of Wight Pride by A Level politics student Esther Poucher, who said his response had “shocked me to the point of outrage”.
Turner replied he had been invited to the event but would not go.
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Poucher, who describes herself as “a passionate campaigner for LGBT rights”, wrote on Facebook: “He told us that he’d been invited, but wasn’t intending to go. This is because (and this is a direct quote) he thinks that homosexuality is ‘wrong’ and ‘dangerous to society’.
At this answer, I had to leave.
“It’s terrifying that in this age and point in our development as a society, there are still people that can’t care enough about a person’s wellbeing to just accept who they are.
“And the most terrifying thing is that we as an island consistently vote him in to represent us. Well fuck that. HE DOES NOT REPRESENT ME.”
She added: “If there is anything I can give to you from this, it is that we need change.
“We can’t wait, and we can’t just nod politely and respect and opinion like that.
“Yes, we all believe different things, and that’s wonderful. But when that belief treats a group as sub-human, and attempts to take away their fundamental rights, we can’t respect it.”
Turner pictured at the Westminster Dog Of The Year competition in 2011
Speaking to local website OnTheWight, she said: “Other students were shocked, equally shocked I believe and completely horrified.”
Local paper The Isle Of Wight County Press quoted other students who were present and confirmed Poucher’s account.
As the reports about his comments circulated, questions of Turner’s future were raised.
Earlier on Friday the meeting to re-select him as Tory candidate had been suddenly postponed.
Turner announce he would stand down but his statement did not refer to the allegations.
“It has been my privilege to serve the people of the Isle of Wight as their Member of Parliament,” he said.
“I have been incredibly fortunate to represent such a beautiful constituency. After 16 years I have come to the decision that it time for a new generation to take up the mantle of representing my fantastic constituents.
“I am grateful for the support I have received from islanders and proud of the record that Conservatives have in delivering for the island.”
He said he would support the Tory candidate in the seat.
Journalist Owen Jones had called on Theresa May to expel Turner from the party if Poucher’s account proved to be accurate.
Isle of Wight Pride said: “As a group we avoid making political comments, but in the light of the allegations, we are deeply shocked and saddened.
“Any person who makes such a statement in a public forum as our MP is dangerous.”
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley said: “There’s no place for these prehistoric pronouncements in our politics.
“It’s astounding that in this day and age we’re hearing reports of an MP spreading such hatred, particularly in a college which should be a place of learning and respect.”
He was first elected MP for the Isle of Wight in 2001. He voted against legalising gay marriage in 2013.
His office had not responded to requests for comment as this article went live.
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