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Tory campaigner tells gay journalist Owen Jones that ‘bum boy’ being homophobic ‘depends on the context’

Reiss Smith December 10, 2019
Tory activist uses Stormzy to defend Boris Johnson's homophobic slurs

Nimco Ali and Owen Jones clashed over the homophobic slur 'tank-topped bum boys.' (BBC)

Nimco Ali, an anti-female genital mutilation (FGM) activist campaigning for numerous Tory parliamentary candidates, refused to condemn Boris Johnson’s “tank-topped bum boy” slur as homophobic.

Ali sat down with gay journalist, Guardian columnist and Labour supporter Owen Jones for a “general election blind date”.

She told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, which organised the date, that she is undecided on who she will vote for but is campaigning for some Tory candidates to deny Jeremy Corbyn a majority.

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.”

Jones explained that since Johnson became prime minister, he has had the slur levelled at him by people “with things like ‘Back Boris’ in their Twitter profiles”.

“Do you think it’s acceptable to call gay people bum boys?” he asked.

She replied: “No, I don’t think it’s acceptable.”

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”.

Sayeeda Warsi, a Tory peer who was the first Muslim woman to attend cabinet, retweeted the video, calling it “an interesting watch”.

She condemned “bum boy” as a “crass, homophobic phrase”, adding: “There is no context in which a political leader should think such a statement is appropriate or acceptable.

“We must be united in calling out all forms of bigotry.”

Boris Johnson unapologetic about using homophobic ‘tank-topped bum boy’.

Johnson’s use of homophobic, misogynistic, Islamophobic and racist slurs has become a regular talking point during the general election campaign.

Johnson referred to gay men as “tank-topped bum boys” in a 1998 Telegraph column. In his career as a journalist, he also made derogatory remarks about same-sex marriage – comparing it to bestiality, and said that it was right to oppose “gays in the military.”

The prime minster was confronted over his remarks during the BBC’s Question Time leaders special on November 2, and was asked to apologise.

Instead, he said: “I’ve written many millions of words in my time as a journalist, and I’ve never intended, genuinely, to cause hurt or pain to anybody. That is my intention.”

“If you go through all my articles with a fine tooth comb and take out individual phrases, there is no doubt you can find things that can be made to seem offensive.”

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price, the first openly gay leader of a major UK political party, said that Johnson’s words make him unfit for public office.

More: Boris Johnson, General Election 2019, Owen Jones, tank topped bum boys

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