No.10 Has Defended Boris Johnson's Trip To An Anti-LGBT Church After Keir Starmer Apologised Over Visit Backlash
Boris Johnson visited the church and met with its leaders last month (Alamy)
The Prime Minister’s spokesperson has defended his visit to the Jesus House for All The Nations church last month — despite Keir Starmer facing significant criticism for visiting the church last week.
Both leaders had attended the site in Brent, north London after a vaccination centre was opened up on the premises.
But, following his visit on Good Friday last week, Starmer faced criticism from the party affiliated group LGBT+ Labour, who called his visit “unacceptable” and demanded an apology.
Concerns were raised over the views of the church’s senior pastor Agu Irukwu, who has previously spoken out against same-sex marriage and LGBT rights.
On Monday Starmer apologised for the visit, insisting that he “completely disagrees” with the church’s views and that it was a mistake to have not made sure he was aware of the church's background before his visit.
But asked if Boris Johnson, who visited the site in March, also intended to apologise, his spokesperson Allegra Stratton defended visit, insisting it was an important part of the vaccine rollout.
“We remember the visit to Jesus House well, because that day it was the site of a pop-up centre for vaccines," she said.
"One of the main jobs inside government over the last few weeks and months has been driving up vaccine take-up in communities that are hesitant about taking it,” she said.
“That is most notably the black community and that was the purpose of his visit that day. It was a visit where he was able to meet black community leaders and work to increase vaccine takeup and deal with vaccine hesitancy.”
Stratton continued: “It's an incredibly important visit, making sure every aspect of the population feels confident in and taking the vaccine is a top priority for this government, and that's why the Prime Minister made that visit this day.”
Writing on Twitter on Monday evening, 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.”
Following this, LGBT+ Labour tweeted their thanks to the Labour leader. "We are pleased that you have recognised and apologised for this mistake," the group wrote.
“We look forward to working with you to end conversion therapy and achieve equality for LGBT+ people."
Both Johnson and the Prince of Wales visited the vaccine centre in recent weeks without attracting criticism.
However, then-Prime Minister Theresa May was heavily criticised for visiting the church in 2017, and Johnson did face backlash for another trip in 2009 when he was Mayor of London.