13th Sep 2012 9:45am | By Petter Larsson
The Deputy Prime Minister yesterday apologised for a press release calling gay marriage opponents ‘bigots’, blaming it on an office error.
Nick Clegg sent out an email at 3pm on Tuesday with statements he wanted to make at a reception held about government’s consultation on marriage. Writes the Guardian.
In the email Clegg said: “Continued trouble in the economy gives the bigots a stick to beat us with, as they demand we ‘postpone’ the equalities agenda in order to deal with ‘the things people really care about’. As if pursuing greater equality and fixing the economy simply cannot happen at once.”
After the remark had sparked a Twitter storm, Clegg’s press office sent out a corrected email at 4.30pm, where the words “gives the bigots a stick to beat us with, as they demand” were replaced with “leads some people to demand”.
The Liberal Democrat leader said he never meant to use that expression as it was ‘not the kind of word’ he would use.
The ‘bigot’ was’a mistake’ in a draft that was never planned to be released to the press, said sources near the minister to BBC.
Yesterday a spokesman for Clegg told Guardian: “This was not something the deputy prime minister has said. It's not something he was ever going to say because it's not something he believes. It was removed from the draft copy[of the email], that should never have been sent out, for that very reason.”
Archbishop of Cantebury, Lord Carey, found the expression ‘very offensive’ and Clegg sent a letter to him and the Archbishop of Westminster saying: “Those extracts were neither written or approved by me. They do not represent my views, which is why they were subsequently withdrawn.
“While I am a committed advocate of equal marriage, I would never refer to people who oppose it in this way,” writes the Daily Mail.
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner who came to Clegg’s reception, said the deputy prime minister had nothing to apologise for. He told the Guardian: “It is pretty clear that some people oppose marriage rights for gay people because of deep-seated homophobic bigotry. Nick Clegg should not be afraid to say so.”
Image via Getty.
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