Labour ditches Birmingham MP who supported Muslims over LGBT protests

Roger Godsiff

A Birmingham MP who supported Muslim anti LGBT teaching protestors has been rejected as a Labour candidate in the upcoming General Election.

Roger Godsiff was one of the city’s longest serving MPs and commanded one of the safest Labour seats in the city, with a majority in excess of 33,000.

But he seems to have paid for backing protestors who objected to the promotion of homosexuality to young kids in a school in his constituency.

Yesterday Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) sided with local activists who said Godsiff’s support for protesters at Anderton Park Primary made his position untenable. They had urged the party leadership to consider new candidates and at an NEC meeting their request was fulfilled.

Before the meeting Godsiff had told local members that he was the only MP who had stood up for Muslim parents over the Anderton Park school issue.

He wrote: “I have spoken out in support of Muslim parents who were protesting about the way their young children were being encouraged to examine their sexuality without any parental involvement. No other politician has been prepared to publicly support the Muslim parents.”

Following the NEC decision local protest leader Shakeel Afsar urged Muslims to support Godsiff as an independent candidate, even though he has yet to declare his intention too stand.

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Mothers peacefully protesting outside Anderton Park School in Birmingham. [Photo: Birmingham Mail]
“As you know for months on end parents have fought for their parental rights to not have their children taught at such young ages as 4 that ‘being gay is ok’ or that ‘a boy can become a girl or a girl can become a boy,'” Afsar said.

“Out of the 12 Muslim MPs that we have, not one voted to support parents; all voted in favour of this type of education. And when one MP who isn’t even Muslim, who is Jewish by his religion, stood for parents and spoke for parents in Parliament that parental rights and age appropriateness must be taken into account, the Labour Party deselected Roger Godsiff on the basis that he stood for his people.

“Now is the time to vote for Roger Godsiff as the independent candidate and show the wider community that we stand by MPs who support us in the most controversial times. He supported you now it’s time that you support him.”

However, human rights lawyer Nazir Afzal, who took the side of the school on the Anderton Park issue, backed the NEC decision.

He said: “I take no pleasure in Roger Godsiff being barred but his ill-informed contribution in the Relationship Education dispute did a great deal to undermine work of schools and rightly enraged equality advocates. Hard won freedoms need protecting and he didn’t do that.”

And fellow Labour MP Jess Phillips, who was also a vocal critic of the protests and those who backed them, said: “The local members had their say and they were clear. It’s a sad way to end a parliamentary career and I hope that Hall Green can have a candidate that local members and voters can get behind.”

Godsiff, 73, who has been an MP in the city since 1992, had battled to save his job after local members voted not to automatically endorse him. He claimed he had been the victim of a witch-hunt over the LGBT teaching issue.

Speaking in the House of Commons earlier this year, he told MPs that protesters had been falsely accused of “homophobic hatred” – adding: “The local member of Parliament, having weighed up the evidence, listened to all sides of the argument, came down to the conclusion that the people who were protesting had just reasons to complain and to protest…that merely added an additional target for the witch hunters, and increased the lust for a sacrifice irrespective of the facts.”

The school has been at the centre of a national storm over LGBT teaching, with crowds of parents staging daily demonstrations outside the gates until a temporary exclusion zone was thrown around it in June.

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