Gay Labour MP’s constituency office attacked with hateful graffiti for the second time in just a few weeks
The first and only openly gay MP in Plymouth has been targeted by hateful graffiti for the second time in three weeks after announcing his bid for re-election.
Luke Pollard is the Labour MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport. He is campaigning against Brexit Party candidate Ann Widdecombe, who has repeatedly voted against LGBT+ rights and believes homosexuality can be “cured”.
This morning Pollard found his city centre office had been spray-painted with the word ‘pedo’ – the third time in total that his office has been vandalised, the first being the words ‘Die Blair’ painted on his windows.
“It makes you feel exasperated, really. It’s horrible when you’re being targeted because of who you fall in love with rather than being scrutinised for what’s actually in your policies,” he told PinkNews.
My office was attacked again last night with more homophobic graffiti. There is no place for hate in our city and I will continue to call it out wherever and whenever I see it. #plymouth pic.twitter.com/r2sEC13Yix
— Luke Pollard (@LukePollard) November 13, 2019
But he is defiantly refusing “to let any bigot make me into a victim”, instead focusing on the countless constituents who have stood against the hate, helping him to clean the graffiti off the windows and bringing cake to his office to show support.
“What has given me confidence is that the vast majority of Plymouth, regardless of how they vote, don’t want this type of behaviour in their city. And these attacks have actually encouraged more people to call this out, to say we don’t want this in our city. This isn’t the society we want to be.”
However, he noted that hate crimes in Devon and Cornwall are on the rise, with the trans community at particular risk. He urged all politicians, regardless of their party, to take a stand against this hate – and that includes Ann Widdecombe.
“If they’re not going to call out hate directed at someone like me in the public eye, will they do it for individuals without a public profile?” he asked.
“We do have a society that is very divided at the moment and I think it is incumbent on those seeking political office to make sure that they are contributing to a solution, rather than making it worse.”
Plymouth Police are currently examining CCTV footage throughout the city to identify those responsible for the vandalism.
After the second incident Pollard offered to sit down and talk with the perpetrator. “If you’re angry enough to vandalise an office, let’s see if you’re brave enough to sit down and have that conversation,” he said at the time.
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There is no place for hate and abuse in our city, our politics or our country. That means we must all do our part to call it out but we must also seek to build bridges and not walls. That’s why I want to sit down with the person who vandalised my office to talk. #plymouth pic.twitter.com/gHCAVXHPYj
— Luke Pollard (@LukePollard) October 27, 2019
He received no response, and with the abuse continuing, he’s now making it clear that the offer is still on the table.
“To be honest I don’t know [why they’ve done it], and that’s one of the reasons I want to sit down with them – to find out why they are so angry that they feel the only way to express their anger is to commit criminal damage on my office and spray paint such hate,” he said.
“I don’t know whether this is about the election, I don’t know whether this is about Brexit, I don’t know whether they just really don’t like gay people. And I think having a conversation and getting to the bottom of that is how we resolve these issues.”