UKIP councillor quits in protest at gay marriage stance

By Ian Dipple Thursday 03 April 2014 Updated: 03/04 16:19

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A UKIP councillor has quit the party and stood down from his seat in protest at their policy on same-sex marriage.

Martin Jenkins' decision comes less than a year after his election to Worcestershire County Council in the Arrow Valley East ward in 2013.

He said he decided to quit after watching UKIP MEP Roger Helmer on last week's Question Time during which he said gay marriage made him uncomfortable and he and his party would not have voted for it.

UKIP say they support civil partnerships but not gay marriage as there was the potential for the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to overrule British equality legislation, which was amended to ensure religious groups cannot be prosecuted for choosing not to perform a same-sex marriage.

But Mr Jenkins said that position did not make sense for a party which planned to pull out of Europe if it took power, which meant the ECHR would not apply.

"I was watching Question Time and thought I can't be party to this anymore, I can't be party to something I don't believe in," he told the Standard.

"Their argument is weak and as a party that claims to be free, equal and libertarian, this isn't libertarian and it's not equal.

"What they should be saying is if we were in power this law would actually work better because if we were out of the EU these type of cases couldn't be brought.

"It doesn't feel a homophobic party and the response and the support I've had locally has been fantastic but for other people in the party this is an issue for them too and I think it's split UKIP in the way it has the other two main parties."

Mr Jenkins added he had already been considering standing down because of the time commitment required and the impact on his fitness business.

But Jim Carver, a regional organiser for UKIP and European election candidate, said Mr Jenkins knew what the party's policy was when he stood at last year's election and it had not changed.

"There is something in law that says religious institutions can opt out but there are already papers for test cases waiting to be presented to the ECHR so this issue is going to come up," he said.

"How libertarian is it to impose something on people who feel very strongly on this matter?"

A by-election has been called to fill the vacant seat in Arrow Valley East and will be held the same day as the upcoming European and council elections.

Stuart Cross, who represents Redditch South, is now the only UKIP councillor left out of the four who won seats in Worcestershire last year.

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