The UK Independence Party has named its sixth leader in 18 months, and he has promptly spoken out about LGBT rights.
Former British Army officer Henry Bolton was the surprise winner of the party’s leadership contest this week, blasting past all of the frontrunners in a dramatic upset.
Unlike some of his rivals, who made the headlines with homophobic comments during the race, Mr Bolton has not publicly spoken about LGBT issues before.
But at his leader’s press conference, Mr Bolton said equality has gone “too far”.
He told press: “Quite honestly, I think it is getting a bit far when we are encouraging children in some cases to question their own sexuality.
“I think that is certainly going too far.”
Asked about trans people, he said: “What I have a problem with is that we should all have a choice in that debate.
“If somebody feels it has gone too far they should be free to express that concern.
“What concerns me more than anything else at the moment in that debate is that there is an effort to silence any dissenting voice and I don’t think that is in keeping with the principle of freedom of speech.”
Elsewhere at its party conference, UKIP unveiled a new website encouraging people to ‘come out’… for Brexit.
The struggling party has churned its way through a string of leaders in the past two years – with the reigns passing between Nigel Farage, Suzanne Evans (whose acting leadership was revoked before she even took up the post), Nigel Farage, Diane James, Nigel Farage, Paul Nuttall and Steve Crowther.
Mr Bolton won just 29.9% of the vote in the race, but was declared the winner in a wide field that included far-right candidate Anne Marie Waters, the party’s gay former Deputy Leader Peter Whittle, and controversial London Assembly Member David Kurten.
Ahead of the conference, Support 4 The Family issued a survey to leadership candidates asking whether they would agree to abolish same-sex marriage, ban LGBT sex ed in schools, and whether gay people can be ‘cured’.
While Mr Bolton did not respond, Mr Kurten – backed by influential Leave.EU donor Arron Banks – made comments linking homosexuality to childhood sexual abuse in his responses to the group.
He said: “The latest scientific studies show that incidence of homosexuality in adults decreases with age, so it is unlikely to be fixed at birth.
“Study after study also shows that the incidence of homosexuality is much higher among people who have been sexually abused as children. This is an issue which needs to be addressed but is not because of political correctness.”
Meanwhile, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage headed to the US this week to rally support for the most homophobic Senate candidate in modern history.
A retired bishop who has defended gay ‘cure’ therapy was given a prime speaking spot at the party’s conference.
Former Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir Ali, a notorious opponent of LGBT rights, will address party members
He has defended gay ‘cure’ therapy, and has said of gay people: “We welcome homosexuals, but we want them to repent and be changed.”
In 2012 the bishop signed a letter to back a therapist who was found guilty of professional malpractice last year after offering ‘gay cure’ therapy.
The bishop said of gay cure therapy: “We believe that people who seek, freely, to resolve unwanted same-sex attractions hold the moral right to receive professional assistance.
“Whether motivated by Christian conscience or other values, clients, not practitioners, have the prerogative to choose the yardstick by which to define themselves.”
He claimed of same-sex parenting: “This is social experimentation. It’s one thing for a child not to have a mother or father through tragedy but it is another to plan children to come into the world without a father.
“The results of ‘father-hunger’ can be seen in [lack of] educational achievement and on our streets, where it contributes to delinquency.”