A Tory candidate is in hot water ahead of the general election, after her connections to a Christian group advocating 'gay cure' therapy emerged.
Caroline Ansell was elected as Member of Parliament for Eastbourne in 2015, and she is standing in the constituency again at the upcoming election. It has come to light that Ansell accepted funding (estimated at £8,470) from the Christian Action Research and Eduction (CARE) in the form of an intern.
Four years ago, CARE were exposed for having organised a 2009 conference that sought to train clergy and therapists in so-called 'conversion therapy' - in which LGBT+ are 'converted' to heterosexuality. The practice is widely condemned by professional bodies and the LGBT+ community, but it still legal in the UK
Ansell's connection to the group was uncovered by Buzzfeed
. The intern is still in Ansell's employ and will continue to be until July.
When news of CARE's involvement in the conference came to light in 2012, many MPs who had been previously involved with the group publicly distanced themselves from CARE. One of these MPs, Liberal Democrat Tim Farron (who is now leader of the party), has been criticised for his own views
on homosexuality and gay sex.
Ansell is also a member of the evangelical Kings Church in Eastbourne, which is part of a group of churches that was previously criticised
for attempting to 'cure' gay and trans people by getting "demons" out of them.
Ansell won her seat in 2015 with a very slim majority. She goes into the general election with a majority of only 733 votes.
In 2015, Ansell told a Christian website that she would've voted against marriage equality
had she been an MP at the time.
In a statement to Buzzfeed, Ansel said: "During my time as an MP I have acted for everyone in Eastbourne regardless of their colour, creed or sexual orientation and there is no-one who will say any different because I have prided myself on fulfilling that role.
"The fact is society should be tolerant of everyone's beliefs and that is the message I take around my constituency and to parliament. It will also be the message I hope to see and advocate at Eastbourne Pride this summer, a new event for us which positively reflects the diversity in our town.
"The intern from CARE was quite simply the best candidate for the job and I would hope that no-one would like me to discriminate against someone because they are a person of faith?"
The general election takes place on June 8.
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