Both Tory Candidates Linked To "Gay Cure" Organisations Have Failed To Win Their Seats
BuzzFeed News previously revealed that Kristy Adams in Hove and Caroline Ansell in Eastbourne had associations with "pray away the gay" groups.
Two Conservative candidates linked to organisations accused of supporting attempts to "cure" LGBT people have failed to win in the tight marginal seats where they were standing.
Caroline Ansell, who had been the MP for Eastbourne since 2015, narrowly lost to Liberal Democrat Stephen Lloyd by 1,609 votes. Kristy Adams, standing in Hove, fell short by a large margin of 18,757 votes.
Both constituencies in Sussex were keenly fought for by the two largest parties in each seat, with the Lib Dems targeting Eastbourne to return Lloyd to power following his defeat in the last election. Hove was high on the Tories' wish list as Labour incumbent Peter Kyle had a majority of only 1,236.
But Kyle, who is gay, benefited from a dramatic swing in support: He increased his vote share by 21.8% to 64.1%, bringing his new majority to over 18,000 with 36,942 votes.
Kyle's constituency, adjacent to Brighton, is known for its large LGBT population.
Last month, BuzzFeed News revealed that his Tory opponent, Adams, had been an active member of the evangelical King's Arms Church in Bedfordshire for years. During this time the church was exposed by the Observer newspaper for reportedly attempting to "heal" gay and transgender people in quasi-exorcisms.
Adams had acted as a representative of the church at external events, including an alternative health show at which she later claimed to have helped heal a deaf man. Her husband, it emerged, was a director of the church at the time.
When approached by BuzzFeed News with questions regarding her association with the church, she did not respond.
A week later, BuzzFeed News reported that elsewhere in the county, Ansell was a member of another branch of the Bedfordshire church, the Kings Church in Eastbourne.
One of the pastors of the church, Andrew Wilson, had said he no longer experiences "same-sex attraction" – a term often used by advocates of so-called conversion therapy. And in a video on the church's website, he introduces an interview with a man talking about how he is "wrestling" with "same-sex attraction" and "desires I don't want to have" after which Wilson appears to agree with his decision to not act on his feelings.
BuzzFeed News also revealed that Ansell had an intern funded by the Christian Action Research and Education (CARE) charity, which in 2009 financially supported a "pray away the gay" conference for clergy and therapists to learn how to convert people to heterosexuality. Her acceptance of this intern, who began work in 2016, came four years after CARE was exposed for funding both the conference and several interns to MPs.
Following the publication of this report, CARE strongly denied that it supports or believes in "gay cures" and said it was unaware of the nature of the conference it funded. "CARE is not anti-gay," the charity said in a statement.
Ansell told BuzzFeed News prior to publication: "During my time as an MP I have acted for everyone in Eastbourne regardless of their colour, creed or sexual orientation" and that "the intern from CARE was quite simply the best candidate for the job".