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UKIP councillor David Silvester’s suspension comes after new interview in which he says gay people ‘can be healed’.
A UKIP councillor who blamed the Christmas and new year floods on the passage of gay marriage laws has been suspended from the party, UKIP said on Sunday, reversing an earlier view that he was entitled to his opinion.
Henley-on-Thames councillor David Silvester, who defected from the Tories in protest at David Cameron’s support for same-sex unions, said he had warned the prime minister of “repercussions” if gay marriage went ahead.
He was suspended by UKIP after defying a request not to do further interviews on his beliefs following his initial claims made in a letter to a local newspaper. The move came as leader Nigel Farage launched a clearout of “extremist, nasty or barmy” views from the party ahead of polls in May.
On Sunday Silvester caused fresh controversy, telling BBC Radio Berkshire that being gay was a “spiritual disease” that can be healed. His remarks led UKIP’s official gay and lesbian group to send Silvester a letter saying he had “rightly attracted derision from people of all political beliefs, and once again painted UKIP in a negative light – an unacceptable act for which you cannot be excused”.
Tory business minister Michael Fallon said the comments showed “there clearly are one or two fruitcakes still around there” – a reference to David Cameron’s previous criticisms of Ukip.
Silvester said the new law, paving the way for the first gay marriages in Britain this spring, was the latest mistake that would anger God – following on from abortion laws, which he likened to the Holocaust.
In the radio interview, which followed his initial claims about the link between flooding and gay marriage in a letter to the Henley Standard, Silvester said: “I don’t have a problem with gay people. “I believe as a Christian I should love gay people and indeed, I do.
“My prayer for them is they will be healed. It is nonsense to say it is homophobic. If you love a person enough to want them to be healed and to have a proper family, that is hardly homophobic. It is a spiritual disease … it’s not what I say, it’s what the Bible says.”
Silvester added: “I am a man who prays every day for every member of the cabinet and for every member of the royal family and when, two years ago, I wrote to the prime minister to warn him there are repercussions for serious breaches of the coronation oath, such as this one has been, when I saw what followed I naturally assumed this was the result of them going against God’s laws.
“This is not new, this happened in the Old Testament – they were warned if they turned against God there would be pestilence, there would be war, there would be disasters.”
The open letter from UKIP’s LGBT group said: “The Met Office have stated ‘the main reason for the mild and wet weather so far is that we have seen a predominance of west and south-west winds, bringing in mild air from the Atlantic – as well as generally unsettled conditions’ – regardless of whether you believe in a God or not, sudden rainfall has not just formulated out of nowhere upon the UK. An Act of God this is not.”
– The Guardian