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Protesters appear outside High Court as case begins to permanently ban activists against LGBT-inclusive education

Reiss Smith October 14, 2019
Protestors holding signs reading 'gag order'

Demonstrators gathered as the High Court heard arguments against the Birmingham School protestors. (Twitter/Balvinder Sidhu)

The High Court heard the first arguments in the case to permanently ban anti-LGBT+ activists from demonstrating outside of a Birmingham school.

As protestors gathered outside, Jonathan Manning, representing Birmingham City Council, told the court that the case “is not about preventing lawful and legitimate protest and freedom of speech but unacceptable behaviour,” according to the Birmingham Mail.

The council is arguing for a permanent ban against protestors decrying Anderton Park school’s LGBT-inclusive curriculum.

Currently there is a temporary exclusion zone preventing the protestors from assembling, issued after months of disruption around the Sparkhill school.

Manning told the court that during this time, rumours that have been spread about the school including the “hurtful, harmful and totally untrue” allegation that a convicted paedophile had been invited into the school to “teach anal sex”.

A witness statement presented in the court alleged that messages had been shared claiming the school is “making boys dress up as girls and vice versa, showing films about sex and pornography, and making the boys wear pink”.

Manning said that these “continued attempts to disturb school life from outside the exclusion zone” prove that a permanent ban is necessary.

“The behaviour since [the interim order was granted] makes it necessary to introduce a final order,” he said.

Anderton Park head accused of wanting to ‘smash heteronormativity’.

School head Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson clarified that the school simply teaches that different sexual orientations are valid and must be accepted.

“We are saying some children have two mummies – that is not promoting homosexuality,” she told the court.

“A dad came in my office and said to me that if his son wore a dress he would laugh at him. I explained that we would not, and could not, laugh at him at school. That is the difference.”

We are saying some children have two mummies – that is not promoting homosexuality.

Hewitt-Clarkson admitted that there has been “a tension” for a small portion of the local Muslim community about the school’s LGBT-inclusive curriculum.

“There is a tension of course when some people believe homosexuality is sinful,” she said.

“It is not sinful in British law.”

Ramby De Mello, representing the lead protestors named in the ban – Shakeel Afsar, Rosina Afsar and Amir Ahmed – accused Hewitt-Clarkson of wanting to “smash heteronormativity”.

She denied the charge before court was adjourned for the day.

The hearing is expected to run until Friday.

More: Anderton Park, Birmingham, Birmingham school protests, High Court

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