East Ham MP Stephen Timms faces criticism over Jesus House tweet
- Credit: Archant
Stephen Timms has come under fire after expressing support for a church which Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer apologised for visiting.
The MP for East Ham wrote on social media that he "applauded" the "extraordinary work" Jesus House, as well as other churches and other faith groups, have carried out in the last year.
But the Labour Party MP has been criticised for supporting Jesus House for All the Nations, which Sir Keir visited on Good Friday.
In a tweet after his visit, Sir Keir said he disagreed with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights and apologised for the hurt caused.
Jesus House has not responded to a request for comment.
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Prince Charles visited a pop-up vaccination centre at a branch of the church on March 9, while former prime minister Theresa May and current PM Boris Johnson have also paid visits in the past.
Political opponents have urged Mr Timms to apologise.
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Danny Keeling, who is standing for the Green Party in the East Ham ward by-election, said he felt "extremely disappointed" Mr Timms backed the church.
Mr Keeling, who is gay, said: "We all make mistakes, and being part of public life requires recognising those mistakes and apologising for them. This is what Stephen Timms must now do."
He urged Mr Timms to meet with the LGBTQ+ community to learn about how to use his position to fight for its members' rights.
"If he will not, Keir Starmer should expel him from the party," Mr Keeling said.
Michael Fox, who stood against Mr Timms in the 2019 general election as the Liberal Democrat candidate, said he felt dismayed.
He said: "As a bi-sexual man, a resident and a Liberal Democrat, I am appalled by Stephen’s statement. East Ham deserves better than this.
"With Newham Liberal Democrats, I call on Stephen Timms to retract his comment and apologise to those who have been hurt by it."
Mr Timms said: "Churches and mosques in Newham - including one of the Jesus House affiliates in East Ham - have done a superb job during the pandemic in distributing food to people who would otherwise not have had any.
"The hardship of the pandemic would have been even worse without their efforts. They have been especially important for people with no recourse to public funds."
He added that following the concerns, he contacted Jesus House.
"They told me they don’t do anything like conversion therapy, and regard homophobia as anti-Christian. I will be meeting with people who have been in touch to express concerns to me," he added.
Gay conversion therapy is a practice which promotes the false belief sexuality and gender identity can be cured.