Keir Starmer has publicly apologised after facing criticism for visiting a church that has homophobic ties.
The Labour leader has faced backlash after posting a video on social media of his visit to Jesus House church on Friday (2 April).
Starmer described the church as a “wonderful example” of a community-based institution serving the public during a pandemic.
The now deleted social media video clip showed the Labour leader grateful to make an appearance and “to talk about how to address inequalities and injustices” the pandemic cause caused to the country.
However, the Barnet-based church is notoriously known for its pro-stance on conversion therapy and homophobic attitudes.
Starmer is not the only politician to make an appearance at the controversial church. Boris Johnson visited the London church earlier this year and Theresa May visited the site in 2017.
Over the Easter weekend, the Labour leader faced calls to apologise for the hurt caused and the Labour Campaign for LGBT+ rights said the social media video should “be deleted” and Starmer should offer “a public apology”.
Our full statement in light of comments today from a Shadow Cabinet Member that attempt to justify Keir Starmer's visit to Jesus House.
The video should be deleted and a public apology made by the Leader himself. We also expect him to attend our meeting with his team this week. pic.twitter.com/HVXYCWkw1P
— LGBT+ Labour (@LGBTLabour) April 5, 2021
Following Starmer’s apology, the LGBTQ+ Labour group tweeted: “We are pleased that you have recognised and apologised for this mistake. We look forward to working with you to end conversion therapy and achieve equality for LGBT+ people.”
Yesterday (April 5), Starmer publicly apologised and shared he was “not aware” of Jesus House’s connection to conversion therapy or its anti-LGBTQ+ views.
Starmer’s full statement read: “I completely disagree with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights, which I was not aware of before my visit.
“I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that.”
I completely disagree with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights, which I was not aware of before my visit. I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) April 5, 2021
Many online users criticised Starmer and his team for a lack of research into the church and its beliefs.
Research would have shown Jesus House is part of the Redeemed Christian Church of God network founded in Lagos, Nigeria.
It would have also highlighted the various controversies facing the church and its senior pastor, Agu Irukwu, who has previously been spotlighted for his deeply homophobic comments.
Irukwu is known to have campaigned against the Equality Act and the legalisation of gay marriage.
In 2006, Irukwu joined over 250 pastors in signing a letter to the Daily Telegraph which labelled the Equality Act as “Christianophobia”.
The letter, backed by Irukwu’s signature, argued new laws would “force Christians in churches, businesses, charities and informal associations to accept and even promote the idea that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality”.
Continuing, the letter said: “The latest discrimination against Christians is the new law called the Sexual Orientation Regulations, said to combat the problem of homophobia in Britain.
“It alarms us that the Government’s only evidence for a problem actually existing is ‘accounts in national newspapers’.
“The regulations force Christians in churches, businesses, charities and informal associations to accept and even promote the idea that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality.”