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Newham Labour Party member shares homophobic content online which 'drives LGBT+ children to suicide'

PUBLISHED: 12:15 28 June 2019 | UPDATED: 15:37 28 June 2019

The new gay pride flag was raised at Stratford and East Ham town halls on Friday. Picture: NEWHAM COUNCIL

The new gay pride flag was raised at Stratford and East Ham town halls on Friday. Picture: NEWHAM COUNCIL

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A group of LGBT+ councillors say they no longer 'feel safe' after a Labour Party member shared a video online calling for Muslims to stand against sex education plans.

In a series of messages on social media Cllr Joshua Garfield slams the Newham Labour member for sharing content which "drives LGBT+ children to suicide and fuels bigotry and hate crime".

Josephine Grahl, chairman of West Ham Labour, resigned following a meeting of members last night.

In a statement she said: "The exhausting experience of chairing a set of increasingly hostile meetings has taken a personal toll.

"If there is a time when the left ought to be generous, confident and open it is surely now.

"I have no intention of continuing to preside over a battleground."

On the LGBT+ members' complaints, Cllr Garfield tweeted: "While members share homophobic content online [and] incite hostility towards the LGBT+ community, we cannot feel safe at @WestHamLabour meetings.

"West Ham Labour has still not sorted its problem with antisemitism or misogyny. Now, another group are (sic) at risk of being ostracised".

The councillors' complaint centres around a video by Amir Ahmed who campaigns against elements of the compulsory teaching of relationships in primaries, and sex education in secondaries, changes due to start in 2020.

Stratford and New Town councillor Joshua Garfield in front of the Harvey Milk poster at London Academy of Excellence. Picture: Ben WebsterStratford and New Town councillor Joshua Garfield in front of the Harvey Milk poster at London Academy of Excellence. Picture: Ben Webster

Under the plans parents will not have a right to withdraw their children from primary school lessons on relationships.

The government expects secondaries to teach pupils about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) relationships while primaries are "enabled and encouraged" to cover this "if they consider it age appropriate".

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The video was posted on Tuesday, captioned "#Newham it's time to listen" and shared by the Labour member.

Cllr Rohit Dasgupta stood against Nigel Farage in the European elections. Pic: Tim Aldcroft.Cllr Rohit Dasgupta stood against Nigel Farage in the European elections. Pic: Tim Aldcroft.

In it Mr Ahmed calls on "brothers and uncles" to stand with opponents of RSE and join the campaign "fighting for the survival of our traditional family values and the welfare of our children and our future generations".

He says: "We as a community need to stand up, stand together, raise our voices and be heard."

Cllr Rohit Dasgupta, who is openly gay, commented: "It's a worrying trend."

But in a further development, at a West Ham Labour meeting on Thursday, Cllr Dasgupta was stripped of his role as West Ham Labour's LGBT+ officer and replaced by someone he described as "a straight white man".

In a series of posts on social media he described members who shared homophobic content clapping in response and LGBT+ members being booed and sworn at as supporters walked out in disgust.

One member who applauded had appeared to compare gay people to paedophiles in a message posted by Cllr Dasgupta in a bid to expose those who helped oust him.

In her resignation statement, Ms Grahl states: "[T]here are publicly and privately expressed concerns that one of the new self-identifying officers has not been sincere about their identification.

"If this is the case, it's also a deeply concerning situation... at a time when the rights of LGBT+ people are under threat globally the left must be in the forefront of the struggle to defend these."

Amir Ahmed's video in which he urges Muslims to 'take a stand' against relationships and sex education in schools which was shared by a Labour member.Amir Ahmed's video in which he urges Muslims to 'take a stand' against relationships and sex education in schools which was shared by a Labour member.

Party member, Ashikur Rahman, who was at the meeting, denied there was an issue with homophobia in West Ham Labour.

On Cllr Dasgupta losing his officer role, he said: "[Politics] is a game of winning and losing. You should accept if you lose."

West Ham CLP has been approached for comment.

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