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Conservative candidate compares ‘abuse’ she receives for being a Tory to homophobia and transphobia. Yes, really

Reiss Smith December 2, 2019
Linden Kemkaran

Linden Kemkaran. (Conservatives)

A prospective Conservative MP compared anti-Tory abuse to the discrimination that gay, black and trans people are forced to endure.

Linden Kemkaran threw her hat into an already volatile debate over political tribalism, responding to a viral tweet which suggested that “coming out” as Conservative is “almost worse than coming out as gay in modern western society”.

Kemkaran, a former BBC journalist and parliamentary candidate for the Labour-held Bradford East, said she’d made “this EXACT point on Facebook last week”.

“If you substitute the word Tory with gay/black/trans, the abuse that is heaped on us is eerily similar to the bad old days of discrimination, bigotry & intolerance,” she wrote.

Followers accused Linden Kemkaran of misunderstanding the sometimes life-threatening oppression that so often accompanies being LGBT+.

Kemkaran told PinkNews that as “a woman of colour and Conservative”, she has experienced “years of racist abuse and violence, mostly when at school and in my teenage years”.

“I call out prejudice and bigotry when I see it,” she said, explaining that in her youth she was “regularly threatened and told to ‘go back to where I came from’, and received many, many other insults on a daily basis”.

“I was literally the only brown kid in the village. I’m thankful that society has become more tolerant and more culturally diverse in the intervening years. However, since becoming a Tory, I have noticed a similarity in the insults directed at me now, and those I used to get as a youngster.

“If I took out the word Tory and replaced it with [a racial slur] there isn’t much difference and it worries me that some members of society think that it’s OK.”

When asked to address her comparison between anti-Tory abuse and homophobia and transphobia, Kemkaran said: “I champion LGBT rights whenever I can.

“Obviously no offence was intended by me and I haven’t taken any offence from the many negative and insulting tweets I received in reply.”

Joe Nellist, communications coordinator at the LGBT Foundation, told PinkNews that while the charity “condemns all forms of abusive behaviour, comparing the experiences faced by someone because of their political views to those with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 is ill-judged”.

“Many LGBT people still face shocking levels of discrimination, bigotry and intolerance which result in significantly poorer mental health in contrast to the general population,” he added.

Andy Stanford, the Green Party candidate for Bradford East, told PinkNews quite clearly: “Aligning yourself with a political party is a choice.

“Linden Kemkaran has chosen to align herself with a party that has overseen brutal austerity that has ruined the lives of millions.

It is unacceptable that anyone who puts themselves forward in politics faces abuse. But to compare criticism of your political choice to the discrimination faced by the LGBTIQA+ community shows a lack of understanding of issues faced by these communities.”

Homophobic hate crime in Bradford has increased four-fold between 2017/18 and 2014/15, figures from West Yorkshire Police show. This is double the rise seen across England and Wales.

Transphobic crimes in the region tripled over the same period, in line with the explosion of anti-trans violence seen across the nation.

More: Bradford, conservatives, General Election 2019, Homophobia, Linden Kemkaran

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