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Labour homophobia row as ex-Respect leader Salma Yaqoob shortlisted for West Midlands mayor vote

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Labour homophobia row as ex-Respect leader Salma Yaqoob ‘who said homosexuality is a lifestyle choice’ is shortlisted for West Midlands mayoral election

  • Labour LGBT and women’s organisations have complained about Salma Yaqoob
  • They are unhappy about what they claim is previous homophobic conduct
  • She was once Respect Party leader and stood against Labour at 2017 election 
  • MP Wes Streeting: ‘We have serious concerns about her record on LGBT rights’

Labour was embroiled in a homophobia row today after it shortlisted a former associate of George Galloway who ‘has form when it comes to homophobia’ to run to be the mayor of the West Midlands.

The party’s LGBT and women’s organisations have complained after Salma Yaqoob, the former leader of the Respect Party, made the cut ahead of the 2020 election for the devolved role.

They are unhappy at what they say is her poor past record on gay rights and the fact that she ran against Labour’s Naz Shah in 2017 in Bradford West, a seat formerly held by Mr Galloway for Respect.

They are also unhappy her membership of Labour was rushed through to allow her to stand in next year’s election. 

But she has the support of senior party members including shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon, who described her as a   

In a letter to West Midlands regional director Fadel Takrouri, LGBT Labour politicians including Wes Streeting, Chris Bryant and Angela Eagle accused Ms Yaqoob of ‘sharing a platform with whose who propagate’ homophobia.

The party's LGBT and women's organisations have complained after Salma Yaqoob, the former leader of the Respect Party, made the cut ahead of the 2020 election for the devolved role

The party’s LGBT and women’s organisations have complained after Salma Yaqoob, the former leader of the Respect Party, made the cut ahead of the 2020 election for the devolved role

‘She has previously referred to being LGBT as a ”choice of lifestyle” on national television,’ it continued.

‘She has shared a platform with Yasir Qadhi, who has said that ”killing homosexuals and stoning adulterers was part of” Islam.

‘She waded in to the Parkfield School dispute, criticising the No Outsiders programme that promotes inclusion.’

Mr Streeting added: ‘We have serious concerns about her record on LGBT rights.’  

Rosie Duffield said that female Labour MPs had also written to party general secretary Jennie Formby.

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Ms Yaqoob, who led the Birmingham branch of the Stop the War Coalition, is said to have made it down to the final three candidates, who includes former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne and local councillor Peter Lowe.  

The letter added: ‘We believe the Labour Party made a terrible mistake when Salma Yaqoob was given her membership card and a terrible error of judgement in waiving the very sensible rule of requiring someone to have been a member for a very significant period of time before being allowed to stand for public office.’

Salma Yaqoob

Wes Streeting

MPs including Wes Streeting (right) have complained about Ms Yaqoob, saying the party made a ‘terrible mistake’ in letting her into the party

Ms Yaqoob is said to have made it down to a final three candidates which includes former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne (above) and local councillor Peter Lowe

Ms Yaqoob is said to have made it down to a final three candidates which includes former Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne (above) and local councillor Peter Lowe

The Parkfield School revolt saw an estimated 600 Muslim children withdrawn from the school earlier this year in protest against lessons about homosexuality and gender equality.

The pupils, aged between 4 and 11, were kept home from the Birmingham facility to protest its ‘No Outsiders’ programme, which teaches children about LGBT lifestyles.

The children involved in the mass exodus represented about 80 per cent of the school’s entire enrolment.

Ms Yaqoob denied the claims against her. In a lengthy statement poted on Twitter this evening she said: ‘A series of allegations have been made about me that are either false or seriously misleading and I am aware these have been sent to the Party. 

‘I want to be clear that I stand in full solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and I am absolutely committed to confronting all forms of homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in our society.’

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