Tory campaigner tries to use Stormzy to defend Boris Johnson’s use of anti-gay slurs, but misses glaringly obvious point
A Tory campaigner has argued that rapper Stormzy using homophobic slurs in the past is “OK, because he loves Jeremy Corbyn” after she refused to condemn British prime minister Boris Johnson’s use of similar phrases.
Nimco Ali, an anti-female genital mutilation activist campaigning for several Tory parliamentary candidates, refused to condemn the leader’s use of “tank-topped bum boys” on the Victoria Derbyshire show today.
She argued that the insult is “unacceptable” but its usage is dependent on “context” for it to be homophobic.
Ali jostled with gay Guardian journalist and Labour Party advocate Owen Jones on the prime minister’s track record on LGBT+ rights.
The two activists traded barbs over this as Ali asserted that she is undecided on her voting intentions, but is advocating for some Tory lawmakers to deny opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn a majority.
Although, Ali did pen an opinion piece for The Telegraph this year stating she is “backing Boris” because he is “a real feminist”.
During the show, Jones questioned her support of a party whose leader once used the term “tank-topped bum boy” in a newspaper article.
Following the slot’s airing on BBC One, she was hit with a swarm of backlash from LGBT+ activists.
Doubling down on her stance, she argued on Twitter that Stormzy has not faced the same level of criticism as Johnson because of his left-leaning politics.
“Stormzy has called gay people ‘faggot’, ‘f***ing fag’, and described various people/things as ‘proper gay’, but I am sure that’s ok because he loves Jeremy Corbyn,” she wrote.
Stormzy has called gay people ‘faggot’, ‘fucking fag’, and described various people/things as ‘proper gay’, but I am sure that’s ok because he loves Jeremy Corbyn. I standby what I said to Owen and he knows I am not homophobic nor is the PM.
— Nimco Ali (OB-fanny-E) ? (@NimkoAli) December 10, 2019
“I standby what I said to Owen and he knows I am not homophobic, nor is the PM.”
Twitter reminds Tory campaigner that Stormzy has apologised for his homophobic commments, but Boris has not.
In 2018, PinkNews unearthed a slew of tweets from Stormzy, where he called some followers “f**s” and “f****ts” from 2011 to 2014.
But in less than a day after this, the hip-hop artist, who has openly advocated for the Labour Party leader, apologised in a series of repentant tweets.
I said some foul and offensive things whilst tweeting years ago at a time when I was young and proudly ignorant. Very hurtful and discriminative views that I’ve unlearned as I’ve grown up and become a man..
— HEAVY IS THE HEAD (@stormzy) November 22, 2017
Yet, despite being pelted by reporters across the campaign trail, Johnson has consistently refused to apologise for his rap sheet of anti-gay, misogynistic, classist and racist comments in the past.
Johnson has also helmed a cabinet vastly made up of lawmakers with anti-LGBT+ voting records. Opponents of marriage equality populated Johnson’s team of top policy-makers.
Multiple LGBT+ people and allies emphasised the stark contrast between Johnson and Stormzy’s approach to their homophobic histories:
spot the difference Nimco pic.twitter.com/C64rTNh5wq
— Jonathan Fisher (@fishplums) December 10, 2019
It’s actually that Stormzy was homophobic when he said those things as a teenager, as a man in his early 20s he has grown, learned and apologised for his past ignorance. Not the same situation at all with Boris Johnson https://t.co/weRJz68vsS
— Abi Wilkinson (@AbiWilks) December 10, 2019
first of all, stormzy has taken accountability and apologised ensuring us of his personal growth. has your prime minister? no.
secondly, YOU, a straight woman, do not get to define what gay people deem to be homophobic. know your place. https://t.co/xJmvCYyshf
— JOE (@JXEKER) December 10, 2019
Other users did come out in support of Ali, arguing that, “we can forgive” Johnson for making the comments:
If we can forgive Stormzy for calling people like me faggots in 2017 and forgive Barack Obama for not thinking that people like me should be able to get married in 2008, we can forgive Boris for writing a satirical article in 1998 about Peter Mandelson. https://t.co/RtslkaVZyD
— Luke (@lukerobertblack) December 10, 2019
What were Nimco Ali and Owen Jones sparring over?
The heated topic of Johnson’s use of “tank-topped bum boy”.
The former Mayor of London used the slur in a 1998 Telegraph column, which was later unearthed decades later.
Moreover, the lawmaker’s comparison of same-sex marriage to “three men and a dog” in his 2001 book, Friends, Voters, Countrymen, has been caught in the crossfire as well.
Jones asked Ali what she thought “about Boris Johnson calling gay people ‘tank top bum boys’”.
“I can’t speak for him, he’s not my friend,” she replied. “I’m not here to campaign for him.”
“Do you think it’s acceptable to call gay people bum boys?” Jones asked.
She replied: “No, I don’t think it’s acceptable.”
“Is calling a gay person a ‘bum boy’ homophobic?”
“It depends on the context it’s being said”
— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) December 10, 2019
When Jones asked Ali if she agreed that the term is homophobic, she explained that she would “step in and say that’s unacceptable” if she heard someone yelling the term.
Jones retorted that “we’ve got to call bigotry what it is”, repeating the question: “Is calling a gay person a ‘bum boy’ homophobic?”
“It depends on the context it’s being said,” she replied, claiming that Johnson “is not a homophobe”.