Labour shadow minister condemns anti-gay Iran regime as Jeremy Corbyn silent
Labour shadow minister Andrew Gwynne has condemned the anti-gay Iranian regime – as Jeremy Corbyn remains silent on the issue.
Amid growing unrest in Iran, Mr Corbyn and Labour’s Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry have declined to explicitly give the party’s backing to the protesters.
Mr Corbyn, who took £20,000 from Iran’s propaganda agency PressTV for appearances while a backbench MP, has been slammed for his silence on the issue.
But Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, appeared to break from his leader’s stance.
Appearing on the BBC’s Pienaar’s Politics, Mr Gwynne was challenged over the issue.
He said: “It’s above my pay grade to step into Middle Eastern politics, but the Iranian regime, much of what it stands for I find completely abhorrent – the hanging of gay men for example.
“I think they should be called out and condemned, rightly.”
Asked about his party leader, he said: “I would be surprised if Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t condemn the fact that gay men are hanged by the Iranian regime.
“That is abhorrent and it runs against everything the Labour party stands for.”
Asked why his party has not condemned the regime, Mr Gwynne added: “I just have. These are fundamental principles that the Labour Party stands for.
“The point is, what we are not clear about are all the forces around the protest, and whether they are as liberal and as moderate as perhaps some in the West would make out.
“The people behind it aren’t necessarily as moderate as you are making out. If you come out on one side against the other and say, one side is bad and the other is 100% good, it’s never as black and white as that, as we’ve found out in other places in the middle east.
“We have to be very careful here.
“The Iranian regime stands for a lot of things I disagree with, but I want to make sure that where people are peacefully protesting, they have the right to do so… but that they are not also manipulated by other forces that are as equally abhorrent as the Iranian regime.”
A source close to Mr Gwynne denied he was pressing Corbyn on the issue, however, insisting: “Andrew was saying that Jeremy has consistently condemned human rights abuses in Iran.”
PinkNews previously pressed Mr Corbyn over his time as a host for Iran’s Press TV channel.
He said: “I did some programmes for Press TV quite a long time ago.
“I refused to do any more because there was a change in the process they were operating.
“I presented other programmes in which I was able to raise a number of human rights issues, not just in Iran but other countries as well – and the money I was paid, which wasn’t an enormous amount actually, went into my constituency office.
“Obviously, they are free to make the criticism they wish.
“I used the opportunities to address the issues of the Western relationship with the whole region, address the issues of Iraq, and also address issues of human rights.
“Even in a very difficult atmosphere when you’re dealing with countries and governments that clearly don’t have the same human rights agenda that I do or we do around this table.
“Everywhere I’ve ever travelled I’ve always raised the issues of human rights, however easy or difficult it is.”
However, he was unable to specify any occasion on which he had mentioned LGBT rights on the channel.
Owen Smith, who at the time was challenging Mr Corbyn for the Labour leadership, called for him to pay back the money he took from Iran.
He said: “I wouldn’t have [taken] it. I don’t think Jeremy has done enough to justify that, to be perfectly honest. I’ve not taken any money from any other source other than my Parliamentary salary in the six years I’ve been an MP.
“I think that’s appropriate because I think we get paid enough for doing our jobs and I don’t think we need to get paid extra money for doing journalism.
“I’ve written articles and appeared on television programmes such as I’m doing right now.
“I’m not asking for payment for this, I’m not asking for payment for anything else – so I don’t know why Jeremy felt he should take any money for any of those appearances.
“He could always give the money back, couldn’t he?”