Politics

Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater heckled and chased for supporting LGBT+ rights ahead of by-election

Patrick Kelleher June 25, 2021
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Kim Leadbeater

Kim Leadbeater is campaigning the Batley and Spen once held by her sister Jo Cox MP, who was murdered by a far-right extremist in 2016. (Christopher Furlong/Getty)

Jo Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater was aggressively interrogated by an anti-LGBT+ campaigner over her support for equality.

Leadbeater – who is running as a Labour candidate in the Batley and Spen by-election – was confronted by Shakeel Afsar, a Birmingham activist who campaigns against inclusive relationship and sex education in English schools.

In a furious rant on the street in Batley, Afsar shouted at Leadbeater, telling her he has “seen through the Labour lies” and asked how she feels about Muslim parents who don’t want their children to learn about “sensitive sexual relationships”.

“Why would you shout at a woman on the street?” Leadbeater asked Afsar.

“Because I’m very angry,” he replied, before denying that he was shouting.

Leadbeater said: “This is where I live, this is my community. Don’t come here and shout at me in the street. The Muslim community of Batley and Spen deserve better than this.”

Tensions escalated further when Leadbeater and her team opted to walk away. Afsar and his supporters chased her to her car, repeatedly asking if she will support them in their campaign against “LGBT indoctrination”.

“Kim Leadbeater, answer the question. Why are you running? Kim, I am here to talk to you!” Afsar shouted as he followed Leadbeater to her car.

“We are going to chase Labour at every step,” Afsar said as Leadbeater drove away, before telling the gathered crowd that the Labour Party “is a lie” and a “facade”.

George Galloway denies his supporters heckled and chased Kim Leadbeater

Video footage of the incident was shared by Byline TV. The account alleged that Afsar and those who were with him are supporters of George Galloway, a former Labour MP who is running against Leadbeater in the Batley and Spen by-election.

However, Galloway has denied the claim, writing on Twitter: “This is a lie. The man is unknown to us. He apparently came from Birmingham. I have never seen him before.”

PinkNews has contacted Galloway for comment.

Afsar and his supporters were widely condemned on social media for their approach to Leadbeater – who is queer – with actress Annie Wallace accusing him of “inciting discord and hatred”.

Leadbeater was selected as the Labour candidate in the Batley and Spen by-election triggered after its MP, Tracy Brabin, was elected mayor of West Yorkshire.

It was formerly the constituency of Leadbeater’s sister Jo Cox.

Cox was elected in May 2015 but was killed by Thomas Mair the following year in a murder that sent shockwaves across the UK.

Mair – who had neo-Nazi links – shot and stabbed Cox multiple times outside a library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, on 16 June, 2016. He was later jailed for life.

Leadbeater has not yet commented on the incident. PinkNews has contacted Labour and the party’s Batley and Spen branch for comment.

Related topics: Birmingham school protests, jo cox, kim leadbeater

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