Labour MP Jess Phillips clashes with protester over LGBT+ education
Labour MP Jess Phillips has clashed on-camera with a man who was protesting against LGBT+ inclusive education.
Phillips was filmed on Monday (May 20) arguing with the protester after a visit to Anderton Park primary school, which is near her Birmingham Yardley constituency.
The Birmingham school is one of several that have faced weeks of protests from a network of parents and anti-LGBT campaigners who are opposed to children learning about LGBT+ people.
Jess Phillips confronted by protester against LGBT+ education
In the clip, the man asks Phillips: “How come you haven’t been here, and how come you haven’t been supporting the 300 parents who have been protesting here for the last four weeks? Where have you been?”
— Sima Kotecha (@sima_kotecha) May 20, 2019
Phillips, who sits on Parliament’s women and equalities committee, responds: “I don’t agree with the protest. I don’t agree that you get to pick and choose which equality you can and can’t have.
“Our equality laws protect us all. I want them to protect you, and actually I want to protect you, and actually I want to protect the Muslim community.
“What is happening here… the worst thing about it is, it’s damaging the reputation of a peaceful and loving community that I have lived in my entire life.”
She also called for the implementation of an “exclusion area” to protect the children attending the school from the protests.
The protester responded by accusing Phillips of being “intolerant” towards the Muslim community.
She replied: “I’m not intolerant towards you… to be honest, you’re not a parent at this school. I don’t have to talk to you. All I want to say to you is I fear that you are damaging the reputation of the Muslim community.
Protester doesn’t have children at school
Sky News named the man as Shakeel Afsar, who does not have any children attending the school but has been involved in coordinating the protests outside it.
On Twitter, Phillips added: “In my family we have both Muslims and LGBT community. We have a French, Iranian, Sri Lankan mashup we even tolerate the odd Londoner with a bit of gentle ribbing.
“We are a Birmingham family and we our dead proud of that.”
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She added: “Silence is napalm to oppressors. There is no ‘too hard to deal with’ box and there never should be.”
The school’s headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson has said she will not give in to demands to censor education about LGBT+ people.
Speaking to PinkNews in March, she said the protesters had been “unpleasant” and personally targeted her.
The school head added: “Part of the Equality Act is race and religion, so [we] can’t discriminate against different religions, so we will say to children: ‘Two ladies can get married, two men can get married, but your mums and dads may have a different view on that because of their religious beliefs… we respect people’s religious beliefs but you need to know that this is British law.
“Equality is a fundamental British law. This isn’t an opinion, it’s a law.”