Welwyn Hatfield Conservative candidate: 'I believe homosexuality is a sin'
PUBLISHED: 06:58 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 14:23 03 May 2019
A Conservative candidate standing in this week's Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council elections has told constituents that he believes homosexuality is a sin.
Chieme Okuzu is contesting WGC's Handside seat in tomorrow's local elections alongside Liberal Democrat Anthony Dennis, Ian Nendick for the Greens and Labour's Martin Norman.
Mr Okuzu – or 'Chemmy' as he is known locally – says in his election leaflet that he is a pastor at the Handside-based Herts International Church, which is an evangelical Christian denomination.
Previously he told the WHT how he loved being a local pastor, meeting Handside residents and offering guidance, but felt he “can offer more”.
When asked by a constituent about his views on homosexuality, he said: “I do believe it [homosexuality] is a sin, as that's what my Bible tells me. That is my personal opinion.”
Mr Okuzu said he doesn't want people to judge him on this and hopes that voters can see past this, adding in his defence that “some people might believe that my heterosexual lifestyle is wrong”.
Clarifying his views, he said: “I do not hate the person. The Bible tells me otherwise, but it doesn't stop me being able to walk with the person.
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“It doesn't stop me from connecting with them but if that's your preference and what you decide to do, that's no problem, I have my own opinion, you have your own opinion.”
Responding to his comments, a concerned Handside resident – who did not want to be named – said: “I would have liked to have been told things like this as I can no longer in good conscience vote for him, which is a shame as he seems like a nice man and I have always voted Conservative.”
Another resident, living in The Old Drive, also spoke to the WHT but wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitivity of the subject matter.
They said: “Quite frankly I find the evangelical Christian angle quite hypocritical. They are supposed to spread Jesus' love for all mankind, yet their rhetoric seems to be all too often about hate. This Conservative aspirant should be kept as far away from office as humanly possible.”
Clarifying Mr Okuzu's connection with the Herts International Church, senior pastor Dr Brad Norman said: “Chieme is an ordained pastor with credentials with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, not ours. He just attends our church and like many other people is involved in our various areas of activity.
“Even though he is a credentialed pastor, he is not on our staff as a pastor and therefore does not speak on our behalf. His opinions are purely his own personal ones.
“As a local church, we do not preach a message of condemnation and anyone, regardless of faith, culture or sexual orientation is welcome to attend. We preach and teach a positive message of Christian values and principles of living.
“We have always maintained an inclusive approach to anyone and everyone wishing to attend our services.”