The MP in question has been previously criticised for voting against allowing same-sex couples to marry in 2013 and his abstentions on LGBT+ rights.
Stephen Timms has expressed his support on Twitter for a church whose pastor opposes gay rights, hours after Labour leader Keir Starmer apologised for visiting it.
Timms was accused of “trolling” LGBT+ people after he praised the work of Jesus House for All the Nations in Brent, in north London.
The journalist and Labour activist Owen Jones claimed that Timms was “trolling LGBTQ people in support of a homophobic church Keir Starmer had to apologise for endorsing”, adding that “He shouldn’t be a Labour MP”.
Former Labour MP for Jarrow Kate Osborne said that Timms’ statement had led to “another day of disappointment”.
“I do not applaud those who hide their bigotry behind their so called religious believes,” she said.
The LGBT+ Labour group which urged for Starmer’s apology said that “there can be no excuse for supporting any organisation with links to conversion therapy.”
Stephen Timms, however, told The Independent that he had a conversation with the church after the Starmer incident, and “they assure me they don’t do anything like conversion therapy, and that their view is that homophobia is anti-Christian”.
Timms also stressed that faith groups “have done an extraordinary job supporting people during the pandemic, especially through foodbanks”, and that it is important to acknowledge that.
The Labour MP’s statement on Twitter came right after Labour leader Keir Starmer, who also posted a statement on Twitter apologising for visiting and endorsing the church, adding that he disagreed with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights, “which I was not aware of before my visit”.
“I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that,” Starmer said.
I completely disagree with Jesus House’s beliefs on LGBT+ rights, which I was not aware of before my visit. I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that.
— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) April 5, 2021
The Labour Leader had earlier posted a video praising the work of the church, but then was forced by party member’s anger to delete it due to the views of the church’s senior pastor, Agu Irukwu, who opposed same-sex marriage legislation and 2006 proposals that protected LGBT+ people from discrimination.
Pastor Irukwu is also the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Executive Council of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, a Nigerian-based evangelical church which The Telegraph once heralded as “one of the fastest growing black churches” in London.