Ann Widdecombe has been roundly blasted on twitter for using her time in the Celebrity Big Brother house to air her views on same-sex marriage.
In a discussion with fellow housemates, India Willoughby and Shane Gilberto, Ann insisted that marriage was an institution between a man and a woman, and that expanding that definition risked destabilising society.
“Well you call it marriage equality, I call it the redefinition of marriage,” she said.
“If marriage suddenly is no longer between a man and a woman, and it’s between a man and a man or a woman and a woman, then why not between one man and two women? Why not polygamy?”
Shane argued back, pointing out that marriage has never been a static concept and has undergone many changes in the past.
“Well, marriage has been redefined many times throughout history – you used to never be able to get divorced,” he said.
But Ann stuck to her guns, saying: “Marriage is a civil institution that is defined by parliament. If people want to change that I’ve got to be persuaded it’s a good idea and I’m not.”
India argued that if two people choose to be together, that decision has no impact on anyone else, and that marriage was “just a word”.
“It’s not just a word,” Ann responded. “It’s an institution set up for the stability of society which has been with us for centuries. Marriage is a man and a woman.”
Later, Shane – a drag queen who performs under the name Courtney Act – took to the diary room to discuss the incident, claiming he was glad to have had the chance to discuss the issue.
“I like that you can have a civilised conversation with someone who has a different opinion to yourself,” he said. “I respect her right to have her opinions.”
Fans of the show spoke out against Ann’s views on Twitter.
“Ann widdecombe believes men and women should be equal,” one viewer tweeted.
“Unless you’re a man that loves a man or a woman that loves a woman. They’re not deserving of the same basic human rights as heterosexual people.
“Does she actually understand the concept of equality? #cbb #cbbuk”
Many were impressed by Shane’s calm debate with her: “Ann Widdecombe struggles to defend her hatred this evening. What a nasty nasty person. #CBBShaneJ is lovely, he done alot of people proud by pulling #CBBAnn up on her shameful record today. #CBB” [sic]
“Starting to really enjoy #CBB – absolutely loved how Shane J handled himself with Ann Widdecombe and her prehistoric views on tonight’s episode. Such an endearing, admirable person ✨,” another viewer tweeted.
Another viewer pointed out the importance of challenging outdated views with debate.
“Just seen #CBB & there’s a lot of outrage with regards to Ann Widdecombe’s views on homosexuality & marriage. Don’t agree with her one bit. BUT: Nothing changes if it isn’t challenged & it was great how #CBBShane engaged w/ her in a conversation over #CBB drink fuelled rage.”
Some pointed out the the debate simply showed Ann up as bigoted: “Pleased that Courtney Act is showing Ann Widdecombe is not an adorable grumpy old maiden aunt, but an unreconstructed bigot. #CBB”
Celebrity Big Brother continues tonight.