Current Affairs

Demonstration to be held against Bristol councillor accused of homophobia

Jessica Geen September 15, 2009
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A demonstration is to be held tonight in Bristol to call for the resignation of a local councillor who said giving Lottery money to a gay group was “mistaken and misguided” and “an outrageous waste of money”.

Last month, charity Educational Action Challenging Homophobia (EACH) was awarded £381,668 by the Big Lottery Fund for a project reaching out to LGBT young people.

The highly-respected group said: “Throughout the next five years this will be spent upon EACH’s ground-breaking project, REACH: supporting lesbian, gay or bisexual young people develop a sense of pride in their identity and help their peers and adults in young people’s settings challenge homophobic bullying.”

However, the leader of the Conservative group on Bristol city council, councillor Richard Eddy, told the Bristol Evening Post the grant was “mistaken and misguided” and “an outrageous waste of money.”

“Sadly, it seems to be further confirmation that the Big Lottery has long since ceased to impartially distribute lottery cash to worthwhile and respected causes, instead it seems obliged to dole out punters’ money to a raft of politically correct lobbies which clearly sit within the Labour Government’s priority,” Cllr Eddy said.

The demonstration is to be held at 5.30pm tonight outside Bristol’s Council House.

Campaign organiser Darren Lewis, who is a member of Bristol Labour Party, told that around 60 people had confirmed they would attend tonight’s protest, with about 140 saying they hoped to do so.

He said there was cross-party support for the protest, saying that politicians from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Green party had all got behind the campaign.

Lewis added: “It’s very disappointing that not one single Tory on the council has said they disagree with him.

“The situation for LGBT people is much better than it was in the 1970s and 1980s but that’s because people did come out to protest when they were asked, in spite of the dangers.

“But children and young people can’t – so it’s important to stand up for them. I see this [homophobic bullying] as important as the other big struggles for gay people.”

In an email to Lewis, Eddy said his opposition to EACH receiving the “lion’s share” of the grant was because he felt there were many other “worthwhile local causes”, some in deprived areas of the city, which needed the money.

He continued: “Frankly, it is perverse to attribute reasoned, fair and legitimate criticism of the size of the grant to accusations of homophobia.

“One should be entitled to disagree with how publicly sourced money is allocated without this view generating a hysterical response. If not, I have serious concerns for the future of freedom of speech in this country.

“For your information, when originally elected in 1992, the very first ward casework I successfully dealt with concerned two homosexual gentlemen who were suffering harassment.

“In common with all Conservative councillors, I pride myself in working to the best of my ability for all of my constituents and the people of Bristol, without fear or favour.

“I find your base and ridiculous insinuation of homophobia utterly offensive and insulting.”

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