The LGBT+ Conservatives group has hit back at rumoured leadership challenger Jacob Rees-Mogg, after he reaffirmed his anti-gay marriage beliefs.
Mr Rees-Mogg, a backbench Tory MP, has been repeatedly touted as a potential challenger to unseat Prime Minister Theresa May in a bid to shift the part rightwards.
The Conservative MP, who has voted strongly against gay rights and equal marriage, stoked anger from Conservative modernisers this morning by confirming he still opposes same-sex marriage.
He said: “I’m a Catholic, I take the teaching of the Catholic church seriously. Marriage is a sacrament and the view of what marriage is taken by the Church, not Parliament,
“I support the teaching of the Catholic church. The marriage issue is the important thing, this is not how people arrange their lives.”
He also said he would oppose abortion in all circumstances, even in cases of rape or incest.
The comments have evidently not gone down well with his party’s LGBT grouping.
The LGBT+ Conservatives tweeted: “Views of Jacob Rees Mogg on GMB out of step w/modern Conservatives. In language he understands: tu es dedecorus.”
The Latin phrase translates as “You are a disgrace”.
The group also retweeted a post from activist Jack Monroe, which said: “RT if you’re against Jacob Rees Mogg as Prime Minister in any circumstances”.
Speaking to Attitude Magazine, LGBT+ Conservatives chair Matthew Green said: “The views expressed by Jacob Rees-Mogg today clearly illustrate that not only is he unsuitable for high office, but he is also totally out of kilter with the modern Conservative Party.
“Views like these only serve to cement his unenviable reputation as the honourable member for the eighteenth century.”
However some LGBT Conservatives have rushed to defend Rees-Mogg.
Cllr Christopher Ives, a Tory councillor in Sutton Coldfield, told the group Facebook: “Mr. Rees-Mogg was asked his personal point of view.
“He is entitled to hold whatever view he wishes and to arrive at that opinion via whatever means he wishes and whilst I disagree with those views I fundamentally defend his right to hold them.
“He was a gentleman in the way he expressed them. I am more impressed by his gumption to honestly and candidly provide a straight answer to a straight question on his personal views knowing that they would not be popular than I am disappointed by his answers.
“That LGBT+ Conservatives should throw him under a bus in this way in pursuit of the easy path of righteous indignation rather than standup for both diversity and a respected, serving member of our party is absolutely unforgivable.”
PinkNews revealed in 2015 that Rees-Mogg has criticised Prime Minister David Cameron during a Conservative conference call, accusing him of “alienating” people over same-sex marriage.
During the call, Tory Party Chairman Grant Shapps and Mr Rees-Mogg fielded questions from a number of activists.
A caller had said: “I know the gay marriage issue has been settled, but I think David Cameron would do well not to keep rubbing it in how pleased he was to have got that through onto the statute books.”
Mr Shapps deferred the question to the MP, responding: “Some of these issues, gay marriage being the obvious one, being a free vote so you may get a different view from Jacob.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg told the caller: “On gay marriage I agree with you, I’m not proud that this government passed that into law and it alienated a lot of our traditional supporters. So I think the least said soonest mended.”
Mr Rees-Mogg is a long-standing opponent of same-sex marriage, saying in 2013 that he will choose to be “whipped” by the Catholic Church rather than by his party.
“If this is a strategy the Conservatives won’t get any credit for it and it distressed many of our activists.”
“I think there is damage being done, some activists are leaving, some are considering joining UKIP in protest, and it’s the people who are the backbone of local associations who do the work who are the most put out by it.”