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Andrew Turner steps down as Isle of Wight MP after outcry over alleged homosexuality comments

Andrew Turner has quit as Isle of Wight MP after an outcry over comments about homosexuality.

Andrew Turner has quit as Isle of Wight MP after an outcry over comments about homosexuality.

Ross Findon

ross.findon@iwcp.co.uk

Friday, April 28, 2017 - 21:25

ANDREW Turner has stepped down as Isle of Wight MP after an outcry over alleged comments about the LGBTQ community to a group of Christ the King College students earlier today (Friday).
Mr Turner had been due to be re-selected this afternoon until a decision by the Tories to delay the process to avoid confusion with next week's local elections.
But he faced mounting pressure to go, after students spoke out about alleged comments made by Mr Turner during an A Level politics class, in which they said he called homosexuality 'dangerous to society' and 'wrong.'
In a statement issued several hours after the comments were first reported, Mr Turner said: "It has been my privilege to serve the people of the Isle of Wight as their Member of Parliament.
"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.
"In the forthcoming election I will be supporting the Conservative candidate to ensure the strong and stable leadership of Theresa May is returned to Downing Street."
Esther Poucher, 16, who posted her account of what happened at the school on Facebook, said: "So today our Conservative MP Andrew Turner came into our A Level politics class to let us ask him questions about his work. As a passionate campaigner for LGBT rights, and basically just a decent human being, I decided to open up a discussion about Isle of Wight Pride.
"I asked him if he'd had any involvement in the event, and his answer has truly shocked me to the point of outrage. 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 well-being to just accept who they are. And the most terrifying thing is that we as an Island consistently vote him in to represent us."
Speaking to the County Press, she said: "I was completely speechless, it was very upsetting to hear."
Toby Sheard, 17, who was also at the session, said: "We were talking about his views on the upcoming Isle of Wight Pride. He said he was personally against it. He did not agree with homosexuality and said it was dangerous to society."
Fellow student, Alex Buggie said the MP's response had shocked students and teachers.
"We came back to the question at the end and he said it was mainly a religious belief," said Alex, 18.
Julian Critchley, of the Isle of Wight Labour Party, said they condemned the comments and called for an immediate apology from Andrew Turner and the withdrawal of his candidacy.
"Someone holding such disgusting and repellent views is not fit to represent the people of the Isle of Wight," he said.
The Lib Dems also hit out.
"The Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats condemn Andrew Turner's comments today. We at the Isle of Wight Lib Dems want to reinforce our commitment to helping and supporting the LGBT+ community on the Island, and are against all kinds of discrimination, and discrimination at any level. What Mr Turner has said is wrong, discriminatory and brings into question in his position as a MP.
"Our PPC Nick Belfitt has and will continue to work closely with groups like Pride on the Isle of Wight to make sure we can be build a better inclusive community on the Island. We look forward to working with Isle of Wight Pride and LGBT+ community in the future."
Isle of Wight youth MP Joe Davies described Mr Turner's voting record on gay rights as appalling and said: "I was absolutely shocked. The fact that he is our voice in parliament and he thinks the LGBTQ community is dangerous to society is terrible."
He also called for Mr Turner to withdraw his candidacy to be re-elected as Isle of Wight MP.
An online petition, also calling for his resignation, has been created by Isle of Wight student Chris Ilott.
Isle of Wight Pride said: "As a group we avoid making political comments, but in the light of the attached Facebook post by Esther, we are deeply shocked and saddened.
"Any person who makes such a statement in a public forum as our MP is dangerous.
Suicide rates amongst LGBT young people are still disproportionately high. Mr Turner did not know if anyone in the room was struggling with their Sexuality or Gender identity and he does not know how his comments may have impacted on those present.
"There are lots of organisations available to provide support and guidance to LGBT young people, including Stonewall and also our own Breakout Youth service.
"Nobody should be told they are a danger to society based on who they love or their Gender identity.
"Isle of Wight Pride have not specifically invited any individuals as we want to be as inclusive as possible and want all to feel welcome.
"We openly welcome Mr Turner to attend Pride, meet some of his own constituents that he is supposed to fully represent and find out for himself that we are not a dangerous group of human beings and that #LoveWins."
In a statement this evening, UKIP Isle of Wight said Andrew Turner's views did not represent the vast majority of Islanders they spoke to.
The branch's LGBT spokesman Rod Mosnicka, said: "This shows how out of touch Andrew Turner and the Conservatives are.
"Once you scratch the surface the same old prejudices come through."
Branch chairman Cllr Daryll Pitcher, who is expected to represent the party at the general election, said he feared Andrew Turner's comments could damage the relationship between politicians and the LGBT community.
"As a party with an openly Gay deputy leader we find it unacceptable that these views have found a home in the Conservatives.
"Andrew Turner's comments cannot have come as a complete shock to his party, they must have known his stance and yet until now they have done nothing."
Green Party election candidate Vix Lowthion, who is now the only 2015 candidate to be standing in June, said: "Having read the resignation by Mr Turner, I am surprised and disappointed that there is a complete avoidance of tackling the 'tiger' in the room: which is that Mr Turner told a room of impressionable teenagers that being a homosexual is 'wrong' and 'dangerous.'
"He has refused to take responsibility for his words, his offensive and outdated beliefs.
"His resignation letter leads us to believe that the Conservatives have done the Island a huge favour over the last sixteen years.
"This is from the man who spoke those awful words without any apology. His judgement is flawed and discredited, and instead of taking responsibility for his actions he has made the decision to walk away."
*Island Independent leader Cllr Julia Baker-Smith said the episode, coupled with the controversy after Conservative Association chairman Ian Ward re-tweeted former EDL leader Tommy Robinson (reported in today's County Press), raised serious concerns about views within the Isle of Wight Conservative Association.
"It is interesting to note that Andrew Turner's resignation was not prompted by those within his own Conservative Party, but by young Islanders who he has grossly offended by his unacceptable comments.
"Such views have no place in modern society and show why they should not be allowed to represent our community or our young people," she said.

 


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