Community News

Humanist charity “appalled” by anti-LGBT religious protests in Birmingham

Besi Besemar June 2, 2019

UK LGBT Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) are “appalled” by the anti-LGBT demonstrations being held outside primary schools by religious people, mostly Muslims, who have been protesting about the inclusion of homosexuality in Relationship and Sex Education (RSE) lessons.

THE PTT draws parallels with the Salman Rushdie affair of 1989. “Once again Muslims are protesting about something which many of them haven’t even read. Then it was a novel; now it is the No Outsiders programme or the government’s position on RSE. Again mob rule is winning. Then the author was forced into hiding and those who translated his book physically attacked. Now schools are being forced to change what they teach”.

Shabana Mahmood MP
Shabana Mahmood MP

Birmingham Labour MP, Roger Godsiff, has publicly doubted whether the lessons are “age appropriate”, despite Ofsted’s judgement they are, while another Birmingham Labour MP Shabana Mahmood, defended the protesters who forced Parkfield School to suspend its lessons earlier this year.

Conservative Party leadership candidate, the former work and pensions secretary and MP for Tatton, Esther McVey, when asked about the issue during a TV interview last week said she though any decisions should be left to parents to make.

A spokesperson for PTT said: “RSE programmes which protect LGBT rights and women’s rights are under threat. Muslim intolerance and intransigence is playing out publicly adding more fuel to the culture war between Islamists and anti-Muslim bigots. This episode is undermining the idea that we should live in a cohesive society where human rights are universal.

“The government must resist this growing attempt to undermine RSE education. The government says it defends teachers’ ability to do their jobs in the face of unreasonable pressure. But, the attempt to undermine teaching which acknowledges LGBT people’s existence is a well-coordinated and deeply intimidating campaign which requires a national response. Leaving individual schools to face the wrath of vocal, intolerant, reactionary religious groups is not good enough.”

Yesterday, June 1 Birmingham City Council obtained a temporary High Court injunction banning protestors from the area following several weeks of protests outside Anderton Park Primary School. The council said the situation was “too serious to tolerate” and cited “increasing fears for the safety and well-being of the staff, children and parents of the school when they come back from their half-term break”.

The interim injunction covers the streets immediately surrounding the school and prevents protesters printing or distributing leaflets, inviting others to protest and encouraging people to congregate at the entrance.

Cllr Ian Ward

Leader of Birmingham City Council Councillor Ian Ward said: “I’m pleased that common sense has prevailed because children right across Birmingham should be free to attend school safely and without disruption.

“All our schools must be safe spaces and we will not tolerate the ongoing intimidation of parents, hard-working school staff and local residents.

“We’ll continue to support the school and its staff and I would urge parents to take this opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with the school about any concerns they may have.”

Damian Hinds MP
Damian Hinds MP

Following the High Court injunction, the Education Secretary, Damian Hinds said: “I welcome the High Court’s decision to put this injunction in place.

“It is not right to protest in front of schools – it is frightening to children and disrespectful to hard working teachers.

“This will allow children to return to school and parents to continue peaceful and constructive discussions with staff.

“I support and trust head teachers to make decisions in the interests of their pupils – parents should share their views and concerns, and schools should listen.

“However, what is taught and how is ultimately a decision for schools. Consultation does not mean parents have a veto on curriculum content.

“There is no reason why teaching children about the society that we live in and the different types of loving, healthy relationships that exist cannot be done in a way that respects everyone.”

At Birmingham Pride on May 25 the Parade was led by teacher Andrew Moffat the man behind the No Outsiders educational programme which has resulted in major protests earlier in the year outside Parkfield Community School in Alum Rock.