New Zealand’s new Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she left the Mormon church because of its conservative views around LGBTI people.

Ardern will become the country’s third female prime minister, with her Labour party forming a coalition government with NZ First, supported by the Greens.

In an interview with the NZ Herald, she reinforced her commitment to tackle LGBTI issues and to be a progressive leader.

Having been raised in the Mormon church, she said she began questioning her faith after living with three gay friends in a share house.

Prospective members of the church must agree to never enter a homosexual relationship.

“For a lot of years I put it to the back of my mind, I think it was too unsettling,” she said.

“If some like religion is part of your foundation, and then suddenly you start questioning that – it’s quite a confronting thing to deal with.

“I lived in a flat with three gay friends and I was still going to church every so often and I remember thinking it was really inconsistent – I’m either doing a disservice to the church or my friends.

“Because how could I subscribe to a religion that just didn’t account for them?”

Ardern then left the church, and now identifies as agnostic.

“I think people should be free to have their personal beliefs and not be persecuted for it, whether they be atheist or staunch church members,” she said.

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