Tory candidate suspended for homophobia and antisemitism will keep his ‘lucrative’ city council roles
A Conservative parliamentary candidate suspended from the party for making homophobic, antisemitic and racist comments is to keep his “lucrative” local council roles.
Ryan Houghton was suspended by the Conservatives after it emerged he had asked whether “homosexuality is ‘good’ for the human race”, claimed that Islam’s “core teaching” is world domination, and questioned whether aspects of the Holocaust had been “fabricated and exaggerated”.
He has insisted that his comments, made on a martial arts internet forum in 2013, when he was aged 20, were taken out of context.
The party pulled its support for his campaign, but because his nomination papers had already been submitted, he remains their candidate on the Aberdeen North ballot.
As well as running for parliament, Houghton also sits on Aberdeen City Council and serves as business manager and vice-convener of the staff governance committee, described by the local newspaper The Press and Journal as “lucrative” positions.
Ryan Houghton is accused of Islamophobia, homophobia and holocaust denial.
At a council meeting on Monday, December 9, opposition SNP group leader Stephen Flynn called for him to be removed from the posts.
“Councillor Houghton is accused of Islamophobia, homophobia andHolocaust denial,” Flynn said, according to The Press and Journal.
Flynn’s attempt to remove Houghton was defeated on a technicality.
He moved to suspend a rule which requires any emergency motion to be submitted three weeks before a meeting, arguing that the allegations against Houghton had surfaced in less than that period. This was defeated by 23 votes to 22.
The Liberal Democrat group leader Ian Yuill called it “disgraceful that the Conservatives and their Labour allies have not backed the call”.
“Someone who expresses these utterly indefensible views should not, in our view, hold any senior position at Aberdeen City Council,” he said.
Conservative group leader and council co-leader Douglas Lumsden said: “People remain innocent until they are proven otherwise and I think it is a disgrace to try and get someone sacked before investigations have concluded.”
Conservative Aberdeen North candidate Ryan Houghton denies prejudice.
Houghton was suspended from the Tories after Scottish newspaper The National published historic comments taken from an online forum.
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In one post he wrote: “Surely if the majority of the population was to become gay then the species would die out, so it would be harmful?
“I know I’m kind of going to the extreme here but I don’t see how homosexuality is ‘good’ for the human race?”
He later clarified that he had “no problem with anyone’s lifestyle choices” but was just trying “to think of an example when it could be considered bad for the human race”.
Announcing his suspension, a Conservative spokesman said: “The comments contained in these blogs are unacceptable and Mr Houghton has been suspended as a member of the Scottish Conservative party as a result.
“The party has also withdrawn its support for his candidacy in Aberdeen North. The Scottish Conservatives deplores all forms of Islamophobia, homophobia and antisemitism.”
Houghton replied: “I do not hold, and have never held, antisemitic, racist or homophobic views. I would strongly refute any suggestion to the contrary.”