The Muslim comedian Tez Ilyas has left his position on the industry body, the Live Comedy Association, after admitting “unacceptable behaviour” towards women.
Posting on social media, the comic said that “the way I sometimes used women for my own personal gratification is just not ok.”
Ilyas said he had “been in therapy to try and understand where this behaviour comes from,” but couldn’t “campaign for wider change in other areas without first starting with myself.”
The comic, who has hosted The Tez O’Clock Show on Channel 4 and stars in BBC Three’s Man Like Mobeen, became the comics’ representative for the new organisation’s steering group last month.
Here is his full statement:
“It is the time for personal accountability and I want to say, as honestly as I can, to any women I have hurt with my previous unacceptable behaviour, I am truly sorry. The past few years have been a time of real learning for me – but I can’t say that’s all behind me if I don’t do the work to understand the impact my behaviour had.
“And this includes things I genuinely didn’t realise were problematic at the time, but with a greater understanding of these issues now, I realise how they were. This isn’t just ‘being a lad.’ The way I sometimes used women for my own personal gratification is just not ok.
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“I’m so grateful for the incredible women around me who first pulled me up on this in 2017. I’ve been in therapy to try and understand where this behaviour comes from. And as much as I am a product of the difficult events in my childhood and our society and culture, I can’t campaign for wider change in other areas without first starting with myself.
“The intersections of my personal background are subject to deep bigotry both in society and unfortunately in elements of the industry too, and as reflected in my work, I am sincere in wanting to highlight and tackle that bigotry and prejudice. But if I reflect honestly on my behaviour with some women, well it’s a real failure of integrity on my part and I am sorry.
“I take personal accountability for my actions and I’m here to talk to anyone my behaviour affected to truly understand the impact of my actions, words and messages.
“Given these ongoing discussions, I’m not the appropriate person to be representing the live circuit on the LCA Steering Group and with unanimous agreement I’m stepping down with immediate effect.
“I unconditionally support the aims of the LCA and this movement, and it would be my strong preference that we elect a woman to represent us going forward to help the LCA to do the much-needed work they set out to do.
“The interventions I spoke about above and in my last post were such a positive step in my life, but one or two difficult conversations won’t magically fix everything. This work is a process and I still have much work to do. I’m going to continue to use this lockdown period to do that work.
“I also want to say, past behaviour notwithstanding, I completely support women in this industry. I will continue to champion women and promise to do more going forward. I promise you all I will be better.
“I want to thank all the women who have been speaking openly and honestly with me on this industry-wide problem. Your stories and experiences are truly terrible and, as I have learnt, horrifically commonplace. I’m sorry for being part of the problem.
“I would implore my fellow men in this industry, and wider society, to use this time to genuinely listen and reflect on your own behaviours, open up a dialogue with the women in your life, personal and professional, and let’s go through a process of unlearning and learning in order to properly champion our colleagues and be genuine and sincere allies.”