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Councillor who claimed women kissing is ‘pornography’ and linked homosexuality to promiscuity did not break rules, says ethics committee

Lily Wakefield July 17, 2020
Glenn Williams

Coventry councillor Glenn Williams embraces a cardboard cutout of Margaret Thatcher. (Glenn_Williams1/ Twitter)

A politician who publicly declared that he considered two women kissing “pornography” and linked homosexuality to promiscuity did not break any rules, a report has decided.

Glenn Williams, a pro-Trump, pro-Brexit, anti-abortion, “xenophobic”, religious independent Coventry councillor, spoke out against LGBT-inclusive relationships and sex education (RSE) in schools in a council meeting on January 15.

He said a friend’s 13-year-old son had come home from school “horrified” after his teacher had discussed the topic of coming out in class.

Williams continued: “[She] had shown a video of two women kissing. This sort of video, which I regard as pornography, should not be shown in Coventry schools.

“What we should have is a policy that promotes traditional family values. Not how to be promiscuous, but how to respect traditional family values.”

But now, a report by the Coventry City Council ethics committee has found that Williams did not break any rules.

According to the report, the councillor’s comments “resulted in widespread criticism and resulted in six separate complaints being submitted alleging that councillor Williams had breached the Code of Conduct for elected members”.

Coventry City Council’s code of conduct for elected members requires that they “always treat people with respect, including the organisations and public [they] engage with and those [they] work alongside”.

But the report found that although the Williams’s comments were “ignorant, prejudiced and offensive”, independent investigator Matt Lewin “did not find that it amounted to a failure to show respect”.

Lewin said: “There is a very high threshold to be crossed before political speech – even intolerant and offensive political speech – can be found to have breached the Code.”

Glenn Williams apologised for his ‘unfortunate use of words’.

The investigator added that councillor Glenn Williams had already been publicly held to account, and had offered an apology. 

On January 22, a meeting was called with other councillors and LGBT+ campaigners, intended to provide Williams with a much-needed education on LGBT+ issues.

Afterwards he said: “I just need to tell you, to members of the LGBT+ community and others, I owe you such a big apology and that is meant very sincerely, very sincerely indeed.

“The unfortunate use of words – not intended to cause offence and I had no idea about how far that would go – and actually I’m really grateful to Coventry Pride for what they have done tonight and what I hope we can do in the future.”

The findings in the report will be discussed at an ethics committee meeting next Thursday.

More: city council, Code of Conduct, councillor, Coventry, ethics committee, glenn williams, pornography, relationships and sex education, RSE

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