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Councillor's concerns as anti-LGBT education leaflets are handed outside school in Forest Gate

PUBLISHED: 16:41 21 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:30 21 June 2019

Cllr Rohit Dasgupta represents Canning Town South on Newham Council. Picture: DR ROHIT DASGUPTA

Cllr Rohit Dasgupta represents Canning Town South on Newham Council. Picture: DR ROHIT DASGUPTA

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Anti-LGBT education leaflets have been given out outside a school in a move branded "homophobic and sad".

Councillor Rohit Dasgupta was sent a copy of the flier passed to some parents in Forest Gate last week.

The leaflet attacked the introduction of relationships and sex education (RSE), which will become compulsory in schools from September 2020.

The flier claimed the new curriculum would "pervert the course of natural child development" and promote homosexuality and transgenderism to children.

Cllr Dasgupta, a lecturer at Loughborough University and councillor for Canning Town south, said: "Parents did challenge the claims made in the leaflet, which are absolutely outrageous.

"It appears they were only given to a few people, but I am worried about where we are heading with this.

"The [leaflet] is just sad really, and it is disappointing that there are people out there thinking like this. As one of several out gay councillors in Newham, I want people to know we are an inclusive council.

"These leaflets are homophobic and transphobic and I don't want anyone in the LGBT community to feel worried or scared to express who they are."

Cllr Dasgupta added that Newham Council would do everything it could to ensure the area does not see a repeat of the school gate protests that have been going on in Birmingham over LGBT education.

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He said he had already received an email from a 17-year-old gay man who was worried about being thrown out of his home because of his sexuality.

Cllr Dasgupta also made an impassioned speech at full council on Monday, defending LGBT rights.

"Over the last few weeks we have seen a politics of appeasement," he said. "We have seen the disgusting rise of homophobia in places like Birmingham where teachers are being threatened simply for wanting to teach about inclusive relationship and sex education. When did we come to this position? This is a deliberate attempt to try and divide us. There are no fault lines between faith and sexuality, no disjuncture between our ethnic identities and who we love.

"A few bigoted people do not decide what can and should happen. Newham is a fantastic place, a melting pot of diversity and it is more imperative than ever that we do not allow the politics of division and hate to raise its head here."

A Newham Council spokesman said: "We are firmly committed to supporting our primary schools to not only comply with the law in its teaching of relationship education but to also ensure the borough's children learn about healthy relationships.

"We condemn the lies and deliberate misrepresentations peddled in the leaflet.

"We are heartened and proud that the individual concerned and the views expressed were actually challenged at the school gates by other parents.

"The vast majority of parents realise the RSE programme is designed to teach understanding and awareness of diversity, and celebrate it. Newham is fully committed to promoting equality and diversity, and has an excellent record of community cohesion and discussion."

Charities Imaan, Hidayah and NAz work with LGBTQ people of different faiths and ethnicity. Free advice and support is also available from the LGBT Foundation on 0345 330 3030.

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