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Tim Farron labelled 'offensive' over failure to say gay sex is not a sin

Tim Farron would not say gay sex is not a sin Credit: Peston On Sunday

Tim Farron's refusal to say that gay sex is not a sin is "pretty offensive" and will upset many people, MPs have said.

The Liberal Democrat leader was challenged over his stance after The Observer said he failed to fully answer questions about gay sex when asked, and he was accused of being homophobic.

Mr Farron was asked to clarify his beliefs when on ITV's Peston on Sunday, saying "being gay is not a sin", before adding that he was "getting tired" of the line of questioning.

Labour MP Liz Kendall and Tory former cabinet minister Michael Gove criticised his dodging of the question.

Mr Farron told Robert Peston: "I've been asked this question loads of times over the past few days - even in the House of Commons - being gay is not a sin."

Asked whether sex between consenting adults is a sin, he said: "Robert, if I'm honest with you, it's possible I'm not the only person who is getting tired of this line of questioning."

Mr Peston suggested Mr Farron could "just close it down by being unambiguous".

Mr Farron replied: "In America it appears you have to invent a faith in order to be seen to be a serious candidate for anything. In this country it maybe appears you have to pretend you haven't got one to be taken seriously.

"Can I just point out, possibly even slightly impatiently, that both of those standpoints are utterly ludicrous. Shall we talk about things that might impact on the election?"

Mr Gove and Ms Kendall said Mr Farron's comments were 'offensive' Credit: Peston on Sunday

Reacting to his comments, Ms Kendall said to Mr Peston: "I think a lot of people will be appalled that he couldn't bring himself to say that gay sex is not a sin.

"I think that's pretty offensive and will rightly anger a lot of people. I think that was a really terrible interview to not be able to bring himself to say that."

Mr Gove added: "I agree with Liz. It'd have been perfectly possible for him to say 'Of course it's not a sin, it's how people love each other'.

"I'm a churchgoer too. I don't have any problem in saying that I think gay sex is absolutely not a sin."

Later, Mr Farron visited Southwark to support his colleague Simon Hughes, and told supporters that Theresa May believes the general election is a "coronation".

He added: "I do not believe that the majority of people in this country want to give a blank cheque to Theresa May to give her a colossal majority so that she can deliver any old form of Brexit."