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Labour mayoral candidate embroiled in ‘homophobia’ row denies saying being gay is a ‘choice of lifestyle’

Patrick Kelleher October 22, 2019
Labour mayoral candidate embroiled in 'homophobia' row denies saying being gay is a 'choice of lifestyle'

Salma Yaqoob (Wiktor Szymanowicz / Barcroft Images via Getty)

A row has broken out in the Labour Party after MPs claimed a West Midlands mayoral candidate is “homophobic” – however, the candidate has denied all of the claims.

Salma Yaqoob is running as a candidate for the mayoral election in the West Midlands – but a number of MPs are calling for her to be removed from the party, and have cited alleged anti-LGBT+ comments she has made in the past.

In a letter signed by a number of Labour MPs, including Stephen Doughty and Angela Eagle, it is claimed that Yaqoob “has form when it comes to homophobia”.

MPs claim Labour Party made ‘terrible mistake’ by allowing Salma Yaqoob to stand for election.

The letter alleges that Yaqoob refers to being gay as “a choice of lifestyle” on national television. They also said she had shared a platform with Yasir Qadhi, and claimed that he advocated the death penalty for gay people.

Furthermore, the MPs claim that Yaqoob criticised the No Outsiders school programme, which provides LGBT+ inclusive education to children.

“Labour’s values aren’t just rooted in equality, they’re also rooted in solidarity,” the joint letter from MPs reads.

I’m proud to have the support of many LGBTQ+ Labour members, and if I’m elected as the West Midlands’ first woman of colour mayor I will work hard to represent and bring together all communities that face discrimination.

“We stand in solidarity with our colleague Naz Shah, who was subjected to an appalling campaign when Salma Yaqoob stood against her in 2017. The facts about this are clear and indisputable.”

They finish by saying the Labour Party has made “a terrible mistake” by allowing Yaqoob to become a member of the party and urged the party to expel her.

Salma Yaqoob has denied all of the claims and said she stands in solidarity with LGBT+ people.

Yaqoob subsequently issued her own statement in which she denied the claims made by the Labour MPs. She called the allegations “either false or seriously misleading”.

She said claims that she doesn’t support LGBT+ inclusive education in schools are “completely untrue” and said she condemns “anybody who wants to exclude LGBTQ+ issues from the syllabus”.

“In an interview I referred to religious communities and used the word ‘lifestyles’ to refer to this, as clearly faith is a choice,” she added.

“I was not referring to being LGBTQ+ as this is absolutely not a choice and I would never describe it as such.”

She also hit out at a claim that she had asked for LGBT+ rights to be removed from her European manifesto, saying the allegation is “completely baseless”.

“I’m proud to have the support of many LGBTQ+ Labour members, and if I’m elected as the West Midlands’ first woman of colour mayor I will work hard to represent and bring together all communities that face discrimination,” she finished.

More: Labour party, mayor, Salma Yaqoob, West Midlands

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