Sir Keir Starmer criticised over apology for visiting Jesus House

Sir Keir Starmer(Photo: Channel 4 News)

Sir Keir Starmer has been criticised after he apologised for visiting Jesus House because it has a traditional view of sexuality.

The Labour leader visited the RCCG church in north London on Good Friday and posted a video clip of his visit to Twitter. 

But after coming under pressure from LGBT+ Labour members, he deleted the clip and said the visit was a mistake. 

"I completely disagree with Jesus House's beliefs on LGBT+ rights, which I was not aware of before my visit," he said.

"I apologise for the hurt my visit caused and have taken down the video. It was a mistake and I accept that."

In response, the LGBT+ group said: "We are pleased that you have recognised and apologised for this mistake. We look forward to working with you to end conversion therapy and achieve equality for LGBT+ people."

Jesus House, one of the largest Black Majority Churches in the UK, has been running a pop-up vaccination centre during the pandemic that was recently visited by Boris Johnson and Prince Charles, neither of whom have apologised for their visits. 

Sir Keir was criticised over his apology on Twitter. 

London City Mission CEO Graham Miller wrote: "By being SO quick to condemn RCCG at Easter after a meeting to discuss feeding the poor which had nothing to do with human sexuality, it seems that many Labour members are struggling to understand anything about Christianity or Nigerian culture." 

Rev Yemi Adedeji, a Trustee of London School of Theology, said it was "absolutely disgraceful" that the Labour leader had been "placed under pressure to reject both the church and the African community for their heterosexual belief". 

Church planter and pastor Dave Williams said: "It was not a mistake why are you apologising for visiting a church which is a significant part of its community?"

Peter Anderson, founding pastor at Destiny Edinburgh said Sir Keir's apology was hurtful to Christians and others who share similar views.

"Doesn't this apology for causing hurt actually dishonour and hurt your friends at Jesus House, who hold sincerely to scripture's teaching on sexuality (as do I & millions of others)," he said.

"Holding convictions while respecting those who disagree is essential for a free and fair society."

Paul Nickerson, Conservative Councillor for East Riding, Yorkshire, said it was not necessary to agree with all of Jesus House's views.

"This is why you're not a very good leader. You CAN visit places where you don't all agree, we can have different views, it's worth keeping up communication to persuade people to see the light rather than pathetically apologise for even visiting," he said.

Commenting on Sky News, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister Rachel Reeves said: "He was visiting a vaccine centre, that doesn't mean we endorse all the views that people who worship there would potentially endorse."