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This gay musician is singing songs about love to drown out anti-LGBT protests outside Birmingham school

Ella Braidwood September 25, 2019

The musical group on Friday September 20. (Courtesy of Katy Bennett)

A gay musician has organised the best response to anti-LGBT+ protests outside a primary school in Birmingham – by singing songs about peace and love.

Local resident Katy Bennett, 36, told PinkNews that she had been “distressed and angered” over the past six months by protests against LGBT+ inclusive education at Anderton Park Primary School.

But, earlier this month, Bennett, who lives about 100 metres from the school, decided to take action with a group of friends by staging “a peaceful act of musical resistance”.

For the past two Friday afternoons, September 13 and 20, the local musician and her friends have gathered outside the school on the corner of Anderton Park and Yardley Wood roads to sing positive songs about love.

The singers have even won the support of Anderton Park headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, who described their performances as “just lovely” and “peaceful”.

“We’re standing up for equality and promoting a message of peace, love, understanding and community,” Bennett told PinkNews.

“We’re against homophobia and we’re against Islamophobia and all forms of discrimination.”

Watch the musical group perform on Friday September 13 (Video credit: Lou Platt):

In videos sent to PinkNews, the singers can be heard drowning out the anti-LGBT+ protestors with cheerful tunes as they staged a demonstration on September 13.

Their musical repertoire includes Louis Armstrong’s ‘What A Wonderful World’; Judy Garland’s ‘Over The Rainbow’; Labi Siffre’s ‘Something Inside So Strong’; The Beatles’ ‘All You Need Is Love’; and Arthur Kent’s ‘Bring Me Sunshine’.

The group, made up of local residents, has grown in number with about 20 singers last Friday, September 20, up from around nine at their first musical performance on September 13.

PinkNews understands that there has been one anti-LGBT+ protest with around eight participants, on September 13, since the start of term earlier this month – despite claims by lead organiser Shakeel Afsar that there would be more.

Weather permitting, the singers will be out to play again this Friday, September 27.

Bennett, who has a five-year-old child, added that the anti-LGBT+ protests “directly impact on my life” and that she wanted to “put love into a place which was previously filled with hate and ignorance and fear”.

The singers perform outside the exclusion zone on September 13 (video credit: Emily Williams):

Speaking to PinkNews, headteacher Hewitt-Clarkson, who has repeatedly said that she would not bow to protestors’ demands, confirmed that the musical group had contacted her beforehand and that she had given them her backing.

“From what I’ve seen on social media, I think it’s a group of people who live very locally and are just fed up, like a lot of us are, with the situation,” she said.

“They’re fed up with aggression, they’re fed up with loudhailers, they’re fed up with living close to that.”

The musicians do not have any children currently at the school, although one of the singers’ granddaughters was a student there some years ago.

Hewitt-Clarkson added: “It’s just such a lovely thing that people who have nothing to do with the school just say, ‘Actually, it’s about time we reclaim that bit of grass verge with something positive and lovely.'”

Both the musicians and protests have been stationed about 100 metres from Anderton Park primary, after a High Court injunction was granted earlier this year barring demonstrations immediately outside the school.

Next month, a court ruling will determine whether campaigners can resume protests immediately outside the school.

The musicians performing songs about love on Friday September 20. (Courtesy of Katy Bennett)

Speaking about the upcoming court ruling, Hewitt-Clarkson added: “We don’t worry about that anymore because it’s out of our control.

“We just have to worry about getting on with our lovely school and not giving too much time to think about whether or not there might be a protest because that’s why we have an injunction – to move it away from school so we don’t have to think about it.”

PinkNews has contacted Afsar for comment.

The demonstrations were sparked by government plans, approved in April, to include LGBT+ relationships in the sex education curriculum across schools in England and Wales.

They first started earlier this year outside another Birmingham primary school, Parkfield Primary School.

 

More: Anderton Park, Birmingham, love, Music

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