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Canning Town councillor calls for unity to defeat homophobia and stop hate crime

PUBLISHED: 17:00 18 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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A rise in homophobic hate crimes has sparked a rallying cry to defeat right wing political forces and end prejudice against gay people.

Dr Rohit Dasgupta, who represents Canning Town South on Newham Council, told colleagues at a public meeting at Old Town Hall, Stratford, on Monday that the fight for gay rights was far from over.

Cllr Dasgupta said: "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.

"There are no fault lines between faith and sexuality, no disjuncture between our ethnic identities and who we love."

But he warned right wing political forces were trying to divide communities.

As evidence he pointed to a homophobic attack on two women on a London bus; threats made to teachers in Birmingham over attempts to teach relationship education and leaflets given out at the gates of a Forest Gate school warning inclusive sex education would promote homosexuality and transgender lifestyles.

In his maiden speech, delayed after last year's local elections, Cllr Dasgupta said: "Our children are not born to hate but are conditioned to do so.

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"The way to prevent this is to teach them the realities of the world and tell them why hate has no place in our society."

Anticipating a possible backlash, he said: "No threat of deselection or needing to appease will waver us from what we believe are decent political values."

But he warned colleagues not to try and win votes in future by ignoring the issue.

He shared the story of a 17-year-old gay teenager who wrote to him fearing he would be thrown out of his home because of his sexuality.

"To that boy who got in touch with me and the young LGBTQ people out there in our borough who are worried for their safety, I tell you there are members in this chamber who will fight for you no matter what.

"We will stand with you."

Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (MOPAC) figures show 46 hate crime offences were recorded in Newham up to August in 2017, compared to 43 for the whole of 2016.

Homophobic hate crimes reported in the borough rose by 130 per cent between 2012-17.

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