A Tory politician has sparked a backlash after reigniting a disagreement over her party’s stance on gay marriage.
Responding to a question over gay marriage on Twitter, Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne – a life peer since 1997 – said she voted against the legislation put forward by the coalition government 2013 because she feared it would ‘lead to degrading the status of women and of girls’.
She argued that someone’s ‘self-identifying swop sex wish’ would ‘abolish women’s rights’, appearing to link it to her opposition to trans rights.
When asked to explain her position, Baroness Nicholson said: ‘I support marriage and family life as the way to offer happiness for most people in the UK for at least 2000 years and more that has meant a man and a woman.’
The Tory peer has a track record of opposing legislation that supports LGBT+ people.
Earlier this year she called on the education secretary Gavin Williamson to ‘carefully consider the state’s role in telling schoolchildren that a bearded man with a penis can be a lesbian’ in relation to sex education classes, claiming such classes could lead to ’11-year-olds being taught about anal sex’.
In May she called on health secretary Matt Hancock to prevent trans people from being allowed access to single-sex NHS wards.
She has also told equalities minister Liz Truss that women and girls were losing their ‘traditional rights to privacy, dignity, personal identity and honour’,
Twitter users and campaigners were baffled by her remarks – including those from her own party.
A user by the name @HarryLP9 wrote: ‘How does equal marriage degrade anyone? Surely the only degrading marriage is one where you don’t love each other? If two women or two men are in love, I think formalising their commitment in marriage is beautiful if that’s what they want to do.’
@peacockpete said: ‘Please explain how my marriage to my husband, whom I’ve been with for 10 years, directly affects your rights, Baroness?’
John Lubbock shared: ‘Tory peer manages to skillfully cram pretending to be the victim, homophobia and transphobia into one dumb tweet.’
Colm Howard-Lloyd, chair of the LGBT+ Conservatives, also criticised the ‘rather jumbled thoughts’.
‘There is no evidence that same-sex marriage has ‘degraded the status of women and girls’,’ he told PinkNews.
‘Women’s rights and LGBT+ rights are entirely compatible.
‘I genuinely have no idea what she is tweeting about, but it reads as an attack on LGBT+ people. This is not acceptable, and not representative of the values of the Conservative Party.’
Asked to defend her comments, the politician responded to Pink News by saying: ‘Twitter is Twitter, not journalism!’