Pro-Brexit councillor suspended after comparing gay people to paedophiles
A Brexit-backing Welsh councillor has been handed a two-month suspension after comparing gay people to paedophiles.
Graham Down, an independent Mathern Community Councillor who previously also sat on Monmouthshire county council, came under fire over emails that allegedly compared homosexuality to paedophilia.
Down was referred to the Adjudication Panel for Wales, which enforces conduct complaints against elected officials, over emails sent to Monmouthshire council chief executive Paul Matthews attacking the decision to fly a rainbow flag in the wake of the Orlando gay club massacre.
In his emails Down said: “There seems to be some ridiculous multi-coloured rag flying from the flagpoles outside County Hall.
“I am, and have been, always quite open that I agree with the teachings of just about every major world religion in that homosexuality is an immoral perversion to be condemned, not promoted.”
He claimed: “A a matter of straightforward logic I do not understand why a homosexual act is apparently acceptable but not a paedophile act. Both are unnatural and I struggle to see a difference of substance.”
Down also remarked: “I believe homosexuality, transgenderism, etc are immoral perversions. I do not accept the activities as being ‘normal’ in any way.”
On another occasion he complained about there being an “LBGTQIYGVGI conference yesterday, although there’s still no sign of a similar conference for normal people”.
In a letter to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales, Down repeated his view that “both homosexual and paedophile acts are unnatural, perverted and immoral” and are “comparable in substance”.
The Adjudication Panel said that the Councillor’s comments “demonstrated an extreme homophobic view which was wholly incompatible with the code and its underpinning Welsh Principles.”
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It addeed: “The comment which made a comparison between lawful relations and child abuse was outrageous, inflammatory, gratuitous and abhorrent.
“It consisted of a flagrant disregard for equality principles and the Equality Act 2010, the public interest in good administration and the duty of trust and confidence between all councillors and their Council’s workforce.
“It deliberately challenged the inclusive ethos of the Council.”
However, he was handed the “minimum sanction necessary” by the Tribunal based on “mitigating factors” including his “previous record of good service” and the circumstance “that the breaches arose from a genuinely and strongly held view.”
It adds: “The Case Tribunal concluded by unanimous decision that Cllr Down should be suspended from acting as a member of Mathern Community Council for a period of two months or, if shorter, the remainder of his term of office.”