Hackney mayor Phil Glanville tells Tory councillor: 'No thanks to your bigotry' after homophobic comments
PUBLISHED: 10:24 24 January 2020 | UPDATED: 11:24 24 January 2020
Shouts of "shame" were heard in the council chamber as mayor Phil Glanville read out homophobic words written by a Conservative councillor singling him out for his sexual orientation.
Speaking at Wednesday's full council meeting, Mr Glanville addressed the comments made by Cllr Aron Klein to the Gazette this week.
The Stamford Hill West councillor's remarks came in response to a story about the council struggling to ensure all schools in the borough, including the yeshivas in Stamford Hill, are registered.
He said: "Why bring in Ofsted to our yeshivas? They give the children ideas of atheist, gay, early childhood sex. We don't need all this thank you."
He then referenced Mr Glanville's own sexuality, adding: "I believe he is gay. Good luck to him. No thank you. We don't want Ofsted coming mixing, confusing our children. For us it's Adam and Eve. A man and a woman. A boy and a girl."
Hackney Conservatives have said they are "looking into the matter".
Mr Glanville used Cllr Klein's own words against him in a speech against bigotry on the same night the town hall voted through a motion rejecting and defining Islamophobia, as part of a drive for the borough to be "No Place For Hate".
He said: "We reiterate the commitments we made to stand up to hate, whether it's anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or indeed homophobia.
"Anyone who has opened the Hackney Gazette recently will see that there are people in this chamber who don't share those values, and make cheap attacks, including on me.
"I would use some of [Cllr Klein's words] to say politely no thanks to you, Mr Klein. No thanks to your bigotry, no thanks to your view on the Carnival, no thanks to your views on bus lanes, red routes, our diversity, the role of Ofsted or myriad other things.
"It's also a no thank you to your view of morality. You do not have a view of morality that is suitable for this chamber or this council. When you question Ofsted, you're questioning our commitment to keep all of our children safe."
Dr Elly Barnes MBE, a former Stoke Newington teacher who founded charity Educate and Celebrate to ensure all schools and organisations have LGBT+ friendly curriculums, spoke out over his comments, saying: "Identifying as LGBT+ is legal in the UK. To deny this education to young people who are already struggling with their place in the world only increases self-harm, suicide and mental health rates."
Rights groups Stonewall and the LGBT Foundation have now also criticised the remarks.
Emma Meehan, of the LGBT Foundation, said: "Cllr Klein's comments are deeply disappointing, and do a great disservice to his LGBT constituents.
"Every school should be a place where young people are able to grow and learn about themselves and others.
"It is a place where every child should feel they have a right to exist and feel safe."
Stonewall said it was important for children to "see themselves reflected and know there is a place for them in society".
Josh Bradlow, the charity's head of policy, said: "Teaching about LGBT families helps all young people grow up knowing there's nothing wrong or unusual about being LGBT and helps prevent the anti-LGBT bullying that remains widespread in our schools.
"Comments like Cllr Klein's can perpetuate a false assumption that there is a divide between people of faith and people who are LGBT. Many people are both."
Cllr Michael Levy, leader of Hackney Conservatives, did not directly address Cllr Klein's comments, but warned of rising levels of hate speech.
He said: "Government ministers and party leaders set the tone for their citizens and establish what is morally and socially acceptable in our society.
"Racist hateful remarks made or tolerated at the highest levels have a trickle-down effect and are picked up on social media platforms where the bar for what is considered acceptable speech is continually lowered.
"We must all stand up and be counted, and are particularly pleased to support the motion to adopt the All-Party Parliamentary Group definition on Islamophobia. We reiterate in the strongest possible terms our condemnation of every form of racism and hate crime in all its forms in Hackney and beyond."