London Assembly member and now deputy leader of UKIP Peter Whittle urged LGBT voters to flock to the party.
The UK Independence Party’s first openly gay deputy leader has said that his appointment makes him the “most senior gay politician” and proves that his party is the “most diverse”.
Peter Whittle, who was named as deputy by the new leader Peter Nuttall, says his promotion to one of the party’s top jobs was evidence that allegations of homophobia were “ridiculous”.
He said: “I am a social liberal. People say these things about us but we have two people on the London Assembly, myself and David Kurten, I’m a gay guy, David’s a black guy.
“I think we are the most diverse group. [My appointment] makes me the most senior gay politician in terms of leaders,” report The Evening Standard.
His leader, Peter Nuttall, has a worrying record when it comes to LGBT rights – In 2011, he said that the owners of a guesthouse should have been allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples who wanted to stay.
“This week has been a good week for the PC brigade. Firstly, Christian hoteliers, Peter and Rosemary Bull lost a court case in Bristol, which was brought by two homosexual men who took exception because the couple refused to allow them to sleep in the same bed,” Nuttall wrote on his blog.
When asked what Nuttall’s views on same-sex marriage were, Whittle replied that he didn’t really know: “There’s been a broad scope of views on gay marriage, I don’t know quite what Paul’s attitude is to it, he said it quite some time ago, I don’t know whether it’s changed or whatever but for what it’s worth I am perfectly pro gay marriage,” he said.
“I think the main concern was that somehow or other the EU could be used as forcing churches to have ceremonies they didn’t want. We always supported civil partnerships.
“When it comes to gay marriage I think the party totally accepts that, it’s not even an issue for us any more.”
Mr Whittle’s appointment at deputy leader didn’t happen without the almost predictable UKIP wave of controversy and minor confusion.
When the BBC’s Jo Coburn suggested UKIP was “not the most diverse group of people,” Nuttall replied: “Oh come on. That’s splitting hairs. I’ve literally appointed three people. If you want diversity, Peter Whittle, my deputy, is an open homosexual.”
This lead to disbelief and almost universal mocking on Twitter… The same thing that happens with any UKIP story really.
— Иаков (@PsychStudent1) November 28, 2016
New UKIP leader Paul Nuttall says he has appointed as his deputy an "open homosexual."
— John Prescott (@johnprescott) November 28, 2016
— Gerry Hassan (@GerryHassan) November 28, 2016
"An open homosexual"
— Claire (@Novembervivi) November 30, 2016
Paul Nuttall there saying he will appoint "an open homosexual" to his frontbench team pic.twitter.com/JgxKSzWswM
— Derek Healey (@Healey26) November 28, 2016
In light of Whittle’s appointment, will you be joining the new “diverse” UKIP?