Socialist Worker

Birmingham Labour MP boosts attack on LGBT+ education

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2658

On the Birmingham Pride march last month

On the Birmingham Pride march last month (Pic: Socialist Worker)

A Labour MP has been reported to the party’s chief whip after supporting homophobic protesters in Birmingham.

Roger Godsiff said people who had organised protests against LGBT+ education were “right” and had a “just cause” on Saturday.

Godsiff’s Birmingham Hall Green constituency includes Anderton Park Primary School, where mainly Muslim parents have been holding weekly protests against LGBT+ inclusive relationship and sex education (RSE).

A video of Godsiff, posted by protest organiser Shakeel Afsar on Friday, shows him say, “I will continue to fight your corner because you’re right. Nothing more, nothing less—you’re right.” 

Khakan Qureshi is an LGBT+ Muslim activist and part of the Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools (Seeds) campaign. He told Socialist Worker, “This has not helped the situation in Birmingham at all.

“He should withdraw the comments or step down as an MP.

“We’ve already got other MPs and politicians, such as Esther McVey, Damian Hinds and Ann Widdecombe, who have made comments about it. 

“Shaqeel and the other organisers can gloat in this support.” 

Equal

Khakan pointed out that Godsiff “does have some conservative values”—for instance, voting against equal marriage. 

The bigots were on the back foot last week after organisers Shakeel Afsar and Amir Ahmed were pictured with racist columnist Katie Hopkins. They had invited her to Eid dinner to discuss the campaign at Anderton Park school. 

This provoked a backlash and discredited Afsar and Ahmed, including among people who had opposed aspects of LGBT+ teaching in schools. 

Out for freedom - socialists and the fight for LGBT liberation
Out for freedom - socialists and the fight for LGBT liberation
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A letter published on Friday slammed the organisers and called on the protests to stop. It was signed by Labour councillor Majid Mahmood and LGBT+ Muslims Khakan Qureshi and Saima Razzaq from Seeds.

Mahmood said many Muslims “share my concerns” about the protests “but may be fearful of speaking up. 

“We should not fear speaking our minds,” he said. 

The letter also called on the council to reinstate its equality unit and “provide greater objective information to combat misinformation”. 

The bigots had been forced to take their mobilisation away from the school after the high court granted Birmingham City Council an injunction. Defendants Afsar and Ahmed were set to appeal the court order on Monday. 

And, while their protest went ahead on Friday, it attracted only 40 people, well down on the hundreds who had joined previous ones. 

The attack on LGBT+ education comes amid a rise in hate crimes against LGBT+ people. 

Hate

In London homophobic hate crimes increased from 1,488 in 2014 to 2,308 in 2018. In one of the latest incidents two LGBT+ women were left bloodied after an attack on a night bus in London last week. 

Police have arrested five teenagers, aged between 14 to 18, on suspicion of the attack on Melania Geymonat and her girlfriend Chris. 

Chris said, “A lot of people's rights and basic safety are at risk. I want people to feel emboldened to stand up to the same people who feel emboldened by the right wing populism that is responsible for the escalation in hate crimes.

“I want people to take away from this that they should stand up for themselves and each other.”

There must be no concessions to bigotry over LGBT+ rights. 


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