Tory councillor slammed after saying ‘there is no such thing as the LGBTQ+ community’

By Joe Coughlan, Local Democracy Reporter

A councillor has caused offence among his colleagues by saying there is “no such thing as the LGBTQ+ community”.

The comment came during a Bromley council meeting on Monday, while a motion regarding supporting LGBTQ+ residents in the borough was being discussed.

The original motion, put forward by the Labour Group, sought for the council to state its commitment in supporting LGBTQ+ people living in Bromley and to challenge discrimination against such individuals. It also aimed to start a cross-party group to consider ways to celebrate significant events for LGBTQ+ residents in the council calendar.

Labour councillor Simon Jeal said at the meeting: “It’s not only important that this council celebrates equality and supports it in our policies, but also, we publicly state that to residents.

“Because visibility is so important for an LGBT community who, in living memory of some of the members of this chamber, were criminalised and their identities were illegal.”

Conservative councillor Christopher Marlow said at the meeting there were already laws in place to persecute those committing homophobic hate crimes.

He also said he objected to reducing a whole group of people to “one aspect of their identity”.

Cllr Marlow said at the meeting: “I have news for councillor Jeal; there is no such thing as the LGBTQ+ community. There are individuals in this borough who fall into one or more of those groups, and we should treat them as individuals.”

Lib Dem councillor Will Connolly responded to cllr Marlow’s comments, saying they were offensive. He said it was not an individual councillor’s place to suggest a community does not exist.

Cllr Connolly said: “We can see here today, in a London borough, we are still having to fight for the rights to be able to promote and include members of our community.”

The Conservative Group put forward an amendment to the motion which agreed to condemn acts of homophobic and transphobic hate crime in the borough, as was stated originally.

However, the two proposals regarding supporting LGBTQ+ residents and celebrating such events were removed. The amendment also asked the council to note that the rise in homophobic and transphobic hate crime in London was the Mayor of London’s responsibility to control.

Conservative Councillor Simon Fawthrop said at the meeting: “The question is who has been in charge of the Metropolitan Police for the last eight years, but has allowed the situation to get out of control? And there’s only one answer to that. I even understand that these types of crimes are no longer on his list of priorities.”

Cllr Jeal said at the end of the motion that he regretted the attitude taken by the Conservative Group and that the topic had been “needlessly” politicised. He also called the statements made by Cllr Marlow “quite frankly ridiculous”.

The councillor said: “It’s a real shame, and a sign of how badly things have gone in the wrong direction, that not only have the Conservative Group opposed the motion, but once again, erased the LGBT community from the very text of the motion.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “The Mayor is a proud LGBTQI+ ally and has always been clear that there is absolutely no place for hate crime or any form of discrimination in our society. London’s diversity is our greatest strength and keeping Londoners safe is the Mayor’s top priority.”

Pictured top: The topic was discussed at the Bromley full council meeting on July 17 (Picture: Joe Coughlan)


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Bromley – South London News