A former Bucks Fizz star turned Brighton politician is facing calls to step down as a Tory candidate for the city council after allegedly making homophobic comments.
Gay campaigners want David Van Day to withdraw from standing in the East Brighton ward after comments he made at a Valentine’s charity fundraising dinner hosted by the Conservative Mayor of Brighton and Hove upset some of those in attendance.
Hundreds of party goers had just enjoyed a performance by The Brighton and Hove Actually Gay Men’s Chorus at the event in the Brighton Pavilion when Mr Van Day started his speech by saying that the members of the choir “bend over backwards for anybody.”
He went on that he didn’t want to “be behind them at the time.”
Some of the audience laughed but many were stunned at the outburst.
One gay guest, Josh Mills, who is the lead trustee of Brighton Pride, had been invited to the dinner by heterosexual friends.
He reported the comments to PinkNews.co.uk.
“I was disgusted by the comments and it was offensive,” said Mr Mills.
“My friends were deeply embarrassed and apologised to me saying that I shouldn’t have had to endure it,” he said.
At the dinner Mr Mills was not aware that Mr Van Day was a Tory candidate.
“I’m a Conservative voter and when I found out later that he’s standing it made me even more angry.
“I want the Conservative group to drop Van Day.”
David VanDay laughed off suggestions he should consider his position:
“If you want to make something out of it you are stupid. I have no intention of resigning or apologising,” he told PinkNews.co.uk
“I camp it up with most of the gay community and most of the gay community I get on very well with. I have never had a problem with this.
“I was up in some of the bars in Kemp Town recently which are mixed and I get on with everybody.”
Mr Van Day, 50, is standing in the East Brighton ward, which has a high concentration of gay residents.
One of them, David Harvey, said:
“If he comes out with such rubbish I wouldn’t want him representing me and my neighbours.
“In our diverse city he can’t be a councillor and should go now before he does any more damage.”
Mr Harvey is co-owner of gay magazine 3SIXTY, which is based in the city and is a former media partner of PinkNews.co.uk
Mr Van Day isn’t the first local Conservative to cause offence to Brighton’s gay community.
Last December Tory councillor Peter Willows was found guilty of public order offences after he likened gay people to paedophiles at a civic reception in the city.
He resigned immediately after his conviction.
Brigthton and Hove’s Council leader was quick criticise Mr Van Day:
“The days are long gone where people can say things naively and not realise that they are going to cause offence,” said Labour councillor Simon Burgess.
“Conservative candidates especially should think about this very carefully especially after Cllr Willows.”