An MP bidding to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats has given his support to homosexual rights and compulsory sex education but says he would rather church schools did not exist.
Tim Farron, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale, also said he favoured the disestablishment of the Church of England, in an interview with PinkNews.
Farron said he should have been more supportive of same-sex marriage legislation and that he wants to ‘blaze a trail’ for gay rights.
The would-be Lib Dem leader was asked whether it “is morally right that a Christian baker should be able to refuse to bake a cake for a gay wedding”.
He said “No”, and added “it is un-Christian to turn people away from your establishment”.
“You should not, if you offer services, be in the situation where you are discriminating.”
PinkNews then questioned him on whether he supported compulsory sex and relationship education in “all state-funded schools, including church schools”.
He replied that while he avoided “knee-jerk policies”, he did support such a position.
Farron added that “if we were starting from scratch, I would not have church schools, but we are where we are”.
He said faith schools “should be able to practise their ethos”, but that there was a “real tension” on the issue.
Church of England
Farron also said he would tell the Archbishop of Canterbury that the Church of England “should be disestablished”.
Tim Farron is competing with former health minister Norman Lamb in the race to succeed Nick Clegg.
In 2013 Clegg used his conference speech to speak out against supporters of marriage between a man and a woman.
Nick Clegg said that while he was celebrating the redefinition of marriage outside the House of Lords, “dinosaurs” were on the inside voting against it.
The previous year Clegg’s office was forced to retract a speech which called opponents of gay marriage “bigots”.
The then Lib Dem leader said he never intended to make the remark and it was a drafting error by his officials.