In Depth

General election 2017: Tim Farron - the Lib Dem leader facing questions over his views about gay sex

Here's what we know about the committed Christian who says he is 'liberal to his fingertips'

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron says he does not believe gay sex is a sin and that he is "liberal to [his] fingertips".

The 46-year-old MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale spoke out following repeated questions about his views on homosexuality. However, the issue has raised concerns over whether his Christianity influences his political decisions.

So who is Tim Farron?

Background

Born in Preston, Lancashire, Farron was brought up by a single mother, who he describes as a "Guardian-reading, liberal type". It was this upbringing that led to him reacting angrily to David Cameron's criticism of single-parent families after the 2011 riots, he told Total Politics.   

He joined the Liberal Democrats at the age of 16, before studying politics at Newcastle University. However, during the 1980s, it was music that appealed - he was frontman for a band he says were a "fourth rate New Order". Despite his description, the group, known first as Voyeurs then Fred the Girl, managed to secure a recording session with Island Records.

Leadership

Farron has made efforts to redefine the Lib Dems as more radical than in the coalition years under predecessor Nick Clegg. He told the Birmingham Mail they were a "sensible, moderate, progressive, centre-left party". He also rated the Lib Dem's handling of coalition politics at two out of ten.

Religious beliefs

Farron became a committed Christian after stumbling across a copy of the bible during a family holiday to Singapore, when he was 18. He told The Guardian in 2015: "My faith is in Jesus Christ. I put my trust in him. I count him as my lord and saviour and I'm in no way ashamed of that."

Asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme if his religious conviction guided him politically, he replied: "It is hardly surprising that somebody of faith says prayers."

However, after being repeatedly quizzed on whether he considers homosexuality a sin, he told the BBC: "I take the view that as a political leader, my job is not to pontificate on theological matters."

He is also a vegetarian, leading colleagues to dub his campaign trail as a "rubber tofu circuit".

Voting record

Farron rebelled in several key votes during the coalition government and was one of only two Liberal Democrat MPs to vote against the bedroom tax in 2012. He also voted against the 2010 rise in university tuition fees and against secret courts. However, his voting record on moral issues has come under the spotlight.

In 2007, he voted against legislation outlawing discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in the provision of goods and services while in 2013, he abstained from the third and final reading of the equal marriage bill, despite having voted for same-sex marriage earlier that year. He later said he regretted the abstention.

He voted in favour of a 2006 bill that would havebrought the abortion limit down to 21 weeks and would have introduced compulsory counselling and a "cooling off" period before the procedure took place.

What they say about him

After his stand against the bedroom tax, The Independent reported a senior Lib Dem figure as saying: "Which bit of the sanctimonious, God-bothering, treacherous little shit is there not to like?"

But The Spectator columnist Melanie McDonagh says Farron's stance on gay marriage "took a good deal of courage" and describes the controversy about his views on homosexuality as a "witch hunt" and a "gang bang".

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