Jeremy Corbyn exclusive: Channel 5 were wrong to air Ann Widdecombe’s anti-LGBTQ views

Darren Bell / Gay Times / Channel 5

Jeremy Corbyn has claimed Channel 5 were wrong to air Ann Widdecombe’s anti-LGBTQ views on Celebrity Big Brother.

The leader of the opposition sat down with Homo Sapiens‘ Will Young and Chris Sweeney, as well as Gay Times, to mark LGBT History Month.

We raised concerns over former Conservative MP Ann Widdecombe expressing anti-LGBTQ sentiments on Celebrity Big Brother, where she spoke against same-sex marriage and labelled a potential relationship between Shane and Andrew “disgusting”.

“No, I don’t think they were right,” the Labour leader told Gay Times when asked if he believes Channel 5 were right to air Ann Widdecombe’s anti-LGBTQ views.

“We live in a society where the message is essentially – and it’s there in law, in statute – that we are an inclusive and respectful society.”

Jeremy continued: “It isn’t illegal to be gay, it is not illegal to be gay in any circumstances in Britain, therefore why promote somebody that’s actually preaching a degree of intolerance?”

Darren Bell / Gay Times

Will Young added: “People should be allowed to have a voice, [but] of course that changes if it becomes hate speech.

“I don’t think [Ann] should be on a network, but I don’t have a problem with anyone voicing their opinions, it’s a balance of where it goes to, but it has to be within the right context, and it has to be, in my opinion, ring-fenced.”

“And they shouldn’t go unchallenged,” added Jeremy.

When asked if he believes hate crime towards LGBTQ people in the UK is getting worse, Jeremy said: “We think it’s getting worse because it’s printed about in the newspapers or it’s on the media, [but] that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s getting worse, it means it’s being talk about and written about.

“I would like to think it’s getting less so, but over the past two years there was a huge spike in totally horrible violence – racist violence, homophobic violence – after the EU referendum in 2016.

“Police tell me locally that the issue has come down a great deal, most police are telling me that, but there’s also a lot of underreporting.

“How many people that get racist abuse, homophobic abuse, or any other kind of abuse actually report it to the police? I suspect not that many.”

Jeremy then suggested that young people should be taught about their human rights, and what they can do if they experience discrimination, in the secondary education curriculum.

“I think in the later years of secondary – maybe 14 onwards – young people need to understand what their rights are, what they can do, what you can go to the police about, what you can make complains about,” he said.

“Also simple things like how you open a bank account, that kind of thing. That’s important, those life skills.”

You can listen to Jeremy Corbyn on the Homo Sapiens podcast – hosted by Will Young and Chris Sweeney – now, with Homo Sapiens Extra available on 23 February.

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