LGBT+ supporters gather in protest at Ann Widdecombe show at Lowther

The protest at the Lowther
The protest at the Lowther
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Around 25 people gathered outside Lowther Pavilion in Lytham today to stand in solidarity against Brexit Party MEP Ann Widdecombe's one-woman show, 'An Intimate Evening with Ann'.

Shows in Greater Manchester, Devon, and Surrey were cancelled after she suggested science could 'produce an answer' to being gay, however, the Lowther said the show would go ahead to support free speech.

Tim Lince speaks to protesters at the Lowther

Tim Lince speaks to protesters at the Lowther

At the peaceful protest, which began shortly after 6pm, organiser Stuart Wade, 38, from Blackpool said: "Ann has spent the last 23 years voting against human rights, against gay rights, and the comments that she has made recently that science may provide an answer to being gay I think is a breach of human rights. It's not freedom of expression, it's an offensive comment to make. It's implying gayness can be cured."

Fellow protest organiser Shae Smith, 18, from St Annes, said: "I am a member of the LGBTQ community and I have faced homophobia in my life and I have been bullied. Comments like that, especially from an elected official, make people more comfortable with attacking the LGBTQ community. This is a way of showing we don't support her views, and that we do support the LGBTQ community as a whole."

Tim Lince, chairman of the theatre trust, met protesters outside the Pavilion.

He said: "I do not feel that we should be in a business of censorship. I believe that the theatre is open for everybody to speak and that's a very important thing that we should all defend.

Protest organiser Shae Smith, left, and Daniel Tinsley

Protest organiser Shae Smith, left, and Daniel Tinsley

"If there had been an incident where something had been said that had led to police action, the board would have had no place in that. The Lowther would not support anything where there has been police action."

In a previously released statement, a spokesman for the Lowther said: "The right of free speech in the theatre was long fought and should be protected so that all opinions can be represented.

"Lowther Pavilion has always had an inclusive performance and use policy and this has been represented by previous and future presentations booked at the theatre."

Protester Esther Irving, 41, from South Shore, said: "I'm really disappointed in the Lowther. I have been attending events here for 20 years and I felt they are encouraging the support of hate, and I feel strongly that there's no place in the world for it today. I'm for free speech, but when not when it's spreading hate about a group of people."