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Labour MP says voting against LGBT education was a ‘mistake’

Ella Braidwood April 1, 2019
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Labour MP John Spellar who voted against LGBT+ inclusive relationships education

John Spellar, the only Labour MP to have voted against LGBT+ inclusive relationships education in England's schools. (UK Parliament)

John Spellar, the only Labour MP to vote against LGBT+ inclusive relationships education in English schools, has said he made a “mistake” after he was heavily criticised.

Last Wednesday (March 27), the House of Commons overwhelmingly backed the government’s latest draft guidance for teaching relationships education in all secondary and primary schools in England, with 538 MPs voting in favour and 21 against, including Spellar.

But MP for Warley Spellar, 71, has since claimed he made a “mistake” with his vote, following backlash.

John Spellar is only Labour MP to vote against LGBT+ inclusive education

“I think it was a mistake to vote against it. It was a mistake for which I apologise to the LBGT community,” he told Express & Star.

“There were a lot of concerns from faith communities.

“The education minister Nick Gibb put out an explanatory letter which indicated the way they are looking at local circumstances and wanting to engage with parents and that covered it.”

The former shadow foreign minister continued: “We need to make sure faith communities are reassured. There was a lot of representation, it wasn’t people who were demonstrating, just constituents and parents who had concerns.

“There does need to be engagement. People need to be persuaded and we need to make sure we are living in a tolerant and inclusive society.”

“I think it was a mistake to vote against it. It was a mistake for which I apologise to the LBGT community.”

–Labour MP who voted against LGBT+ education, John Spellar

The House of Commons vote was carried out as part of the government’s pledge to make Relationships Education (RE) and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all primary and secondary schools respectively in England by 2020.

Relationships education guidance last updated in 2000 when Section 28 was still in place

The guidance last reviewed in 2000, when the anti-LGBT+ Section 28 banning the “promotion” of homosexuality was still in place.

The publication is set to be debated by the House of Lords later this week.

MPs who voted against LGBT+ relationships education
The MPs who voted against inclusive sex and relationship education, broken down by party. (PinkNews/Nick Duffy)

Spellar was heavily criticised for his vote, including by LGBT Labour.

Melantha Chittenden, co-chair of LGBT Labour, wrote on Twitter: “Woke up to find out that one Labour MP voted against LGBT inclusive relationship and sex education and I’ve been sat here trying to work out how to explain how furious I am, but I only have one thing to say: John Spellar shame on you.”

Some 12 Tory MPs and seven DUP MPs, as well as one independent MP, also voted against the guidance.

Related topics: LGBT, lgbt education, LGBT lessons

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