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Rising star slams Labour ‘homophobia’ and says ‘it’s like living in North Korea’

Rising star slams Labour ‘homophobia’ and says ‘it’s like living in North Korea’

🕔18.Mar 2016

One of Birmingham’s rising political stars has lodged a formal complaint alleging ‘homophobia’ in the city’s Labour Party.

Luke Holland, who is gay, resigned as youth officer for the Hall Green constituency party and has written to city council leader John Clancy asking him to launch an investigation.

Mr Holland, 19, who has been a Labour member for less than a year, said he had attempted to raise the matter with officials on numerous occasions.

People were so afraid to speak out about incidents of homophobia that he felt like he was “living in North Korea”, Mr Holland added.

He made his views clear through social media, writing on Twitter and Facebook, claiming that examples of homophobia were being “swept under the carpet” by Labour party bosses.

“I am fed up with my concerns about homophobia being ignored”, he added.

Announcing his resignation, Mr Holland said:

It is with regret that today I will be resigning from my post as youth/students officer on the Hall Green Labour Party executive. It has been a hard decision and I have thought long and hard about it for a long time, but now I feel the time is right.

The Labour party stands for fairness, justice and equality and I am proud to be part of a party that represents that. But sadly since joining the Labour party last year it has been obvious that a minority of members don’t share our ethos. Just like racism, Islamaphobia and anti-Semitism, homophobia should not be tolerated and for too long I have seen homophobia swept under the carpet.

I have tried on numerous occasions to raise the issue of homophobia in the city and it has sadly fallen on deaf ears. In doing this publicly I hope the issue can be tackled. I am willing to provide information regarding those members and councillors that have behaved in a manner I perceive as homophobic.

Some Labour members in Birmingham have criticised Mr Holland for commenting in public, but he replied:

For those that are annoyed I have gone public I did try to deal with this privately but no one was listening.

What shocks me most is that people are afraid to speak out, I feel like I am in North Korea.

It emerged that Mr Holland’s complaints are being investigated by the Hall Green Labour party.

Moseley and Kings Heath Labour councillor Claire Spencer told Mr Holland in a reply on Facebook that there would always be prejudiced people, even in the Labour party:

While I don’t actually know what is being investigated (as is right and proper). I understood it was being investigated by a not-involved person on the Hall Green Executive, and they are still working on it (I have just called that person to check).

I may have the wrong end of the stick (or incomplete insight), but that does at least feel as though you have been taken seriously, which is important.

Without knowing the detail of what has happened, there will always be people who hold prejudiced views, everywhere – some people will move on those views as they experience the reality of something or someone they used to be ignorant of, some people never make peace with it but learn to be kind and tolerant regardless, and some people don’t.

That is human beings, including the ones that happen to be in the Labour Party.

If an organisation or institution absorbs prejudice into its workings, that is obviously troubling and unacceptable. And you should always report negative action which you suspect has been motivated by your sexuality (and encourage others to do likewise if you see it happening to them), particularly if it has been conducted as part of the workings of the Labour Party (again, hard to comment properly given I don’t know everything).

Mr Holland stood as an independent candidate in Mosley and Kings Heath at last year’s city council elections. He was beaten by Labour’s Martin Straker-Welds.

He quickly joined the Labour party, changing his name to Luke ‘Corbyn’ Holland, and won a well-deserved reputation for campaigning, in particular supporting the city’s Muslim population.

He was named Young Politician of the Year by Chamberlain Files. The citation read:

If work rate is considered important, Holland should certainly be found a safe city council seat. He’s everywhere, campaigning on issues dear to his heart including opposing homophobia and Islamaphobia. He describes himself as being passionate about young people and diversity. He’s a relative newcomer to Labour, having stood before for the council as an Independent. Should he be elected next May, he will be the youngest city councillor ever.

Asked by Chamberlain Files to comment on the homophobia allegations, Mr Holland said: “I hope this can be sorted out as soon as possible.”

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