A conservative MP who has represented the Isle of Wight since 2001 has announced he will not be standing for re-election—just hours after it was revealed he made homophobic comments during a visit to a local high school.
Andrew Turner was visiting Christ the King College in Newport and was asked by 16-year-old Esther Poucher if he would be attending the Isle of Wight Pride event.
Poucher—who says she is a passionate campaigner for LGBT rights— posted on Facebook that she was “truly shocked” by his answer.
“He told us that he'd been invited, but wasn't intending to go. This is because (and this is a direct quote) he thinks that homosexuality is 'wrong' and 'dangerous to society'.
“At this answer, I had to leave. It's terrifying that in this age and point in our development as a society, there are still people that can't care enough about a person's wellbeing to just accept who they are.
“And the most terrifying thing is that we as an island consistently vote him in to represent us,” wrote Poucher.
17-year-old Toby Sheard told Pink News that he challenged the MP's comments, asking why he held the view that gay people were "dangerous".
“He dodged the question three times until admitting it was for a religious reason,” said Sheard.
“The fact that we have MPs with these views in our governing party scares me that we could easily see ourselves going back into the past.”
Just hours after reports of Turner’s comments surfaced, the MP released a statement announcing his resignation but did not mention his visit to the Newport school.
“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," said Turner.
Pink News reports that insiders at the British Conservative Party say Turner “resigned before he was pushed”, and that there was “no place in the party for such views.”
Poucher—whose original Facebook post was widely shared—thanked her followers for standing up against homophobia.
“We defeated hate today, and I'm so grateful to everyone who shared, liked, and spoke out for what is right. We did this together, and we should all be incredibly proud,” wrote Poucher.