Isle of Wight MP steps down after 'gay danger remark'

Image caption,
Andrew Turner had said on 18 April he would be seeking re-election

An MP is standing down after reportedly telling students that homosexuality was "wrong" and "dangerous to society".

Andrew Turner, the Conservative MP for the Isle of Wight, was said to have made the remarks on a visit to a college in Newport.

They were quickly posted on social media by one of the students, Esther Poucher, 16, who expressed "outrage".

In a statement, Mr Turner said it was time for "a new generation" to take over after his 16 years in Parliament.

It comes 10 days after he confirmed he would seek re-election after a period of ill health.

Media caption,
Esther Poucher, 16, tells the BBC what made her write the Facebook post

Ms Poucher posted at midday that Mr Turner made the comment in reply to her question about the Isle of Wight's first-ever Pride event in July.

She said: "He told us that he'd been invited, but wasn't intending to go... because... he thinks that homosexuality is 'wrong' and 'dangerous to society'. At this answer, I had to leave."

Another student, Toby Sheard, 17, said: "Everyone was shocked, no-one moved, it was complete silence, all of which he was unfazed by and carried on talking."

Mr Sheard said the MP later explained his conviction was "to do with religious opinion".

'Contemptible bigotry'

Isle of Wight Pride said: "Any person who makes such a statement in a public forum as our MP is dangerous.

"Suicide rates amongst LGBT young people are still disproportionately high. Mr Turner did not know if anyone in the room was struggling with their sexuality or gender identity."

Dave Stewart, the Conservative leader of the Isle of Wight Council, said: "It is very disappointing to hear such comments from someone I know and it is a shame for him to end to his career in this way, but what he said was unacceptable."

Isle of Wight Labour Party condemned Mr Turner's "contemptible bigotry" while the island's Green Party said the "abhorrent" comments had made his position "completely untenable".

Mr Turner announced he would stand down five hours after Ms Poucher's Facebook post.

He said: "After 16 years I have come to the decision that it is time for a new generation to take up the mantle of representing my fantastic constituents."

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