The Oxford Union have announced that BNP leader Nick Griffin “will not be turned away” if he decides to attend a scheduled debate on gay parenting, despite Mr Griffin’s official invitation being withdrawn.
The invitation to speak at the Thursday evening debate, which will be on the topic “This house would be glad to have gay parents”, was originally extended to Mr Griffin as a potential speaker against the motion.
However, the invitation was withdrawn after it emerged that the Union member who extended it did not have the proper authorisation to do so.
Mr Griffin, a Member of the European Parliament for North-West England, tweeted on Monday: “If I get back from parliament I’ll go anyway”.
The decision to invite Mr Griffin in the first place attracted heavy criticism from LGBT rights groups. On Wednesday Unite Against Fascism, local councillors and other campaigners collaborated to lobby Oxford Union to bar Mr Griffin from entry.
Unite Against Fascism have also announced plans to stage a protest before the debate.
Oxford’s UAF Secretary Ian McKendrick said: “We have only had two days’ notice of the visit but support for our statement and protest is growing.
“We urge the Oxford Union to bar Nick Griffin from their debate on gay rights.”
Oxford Union responded by saying that Mr Griffin was entitled to attend debates as a graduate of Cambridge University.
Alex Reut-Hobbs, the Union’s spokesperson, said: “Technically we wouldn’t be able to bar him admission if he did choose to come along. However, as with anyone else, if someone is causing a disturbance in the debate, then there is a policy that that person is asked to leave.”
Mr Griffin is not the only invitee to have attracted the ire of campaign groups.
The Union has also drawn criticism over its decision to invite American author, attorney, and activist Scott Lively. Mr Lively, a staunch anti-gay evangelical Christian, recently termed homosexuality “the issue of the End Times”.
Mr Lively will be joined by Peter D Williams of Catholic Voices, anti-abortion activist Anthony McCarthy, and anti-equality activist Lynette Burrows to debate against the motion.
The motion will be argued for by Benjamin Cohen of Pink News, gay rights activist Richard Fairbass of the band Right Said Fred, and Phyll Opoku-Gyimah of Black Pride UK.