Police are investigating claims that LGBT activists were harassed, intimidated, and pelted with eggs outside a primary school in Birmingham where a row has blown up between the activists, and Muslim parents over the teaching of LGBT issues to children.
Officers are currently looking into three reports of assault and two of criminal damage after the parents and protesters clashed with the LGBT activists who were placing banners reading, “Love is the answer” and rainbow flags on the school gates.
The group of LGBT activists, which consisted of 12 women and one man, said they were harassed and intimidated by the parents and anti-LGBT protesters.
One woman said she was called a vandal for placing the flags and banners on the school gates and a mobile phone recording reportedly hears one of the parents say: “The people want to come to our area and cause anarchy. I have to hold all the lads back because everyone is becoming very volatile.”
Honor Bridgman, one of the LGBT activists, said: “We have stood by and observed these protests for weeks. We felt we wanted to do something, in a loving way. We have consciously not organised counterprotests as we feel that would make matters worse.”
The school, Anderton Park primary, is at the centre of a standoff between LGBT activists and predominantly Muslim parents over the teaching of issues such as gay relationships and gender identity at the school. Protesters claim that up to 600 children were withdrawn from classes by their parents over the decision.
The attack on the LGBT activists follows reports that the headteacher of Anderton Park, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, had received threatening letters and phone calls from protesters and parents. Ms Hewitt-Clarkson described the protests as “very loud” and said, “it’s very aggressive, it’s tiresome”.
The organiser of the anti-LGBT protests, Shakeel Afsar, who does not have children at the school, was confronted by Labour MP Jess Phillips on Monday.
Mr Afsar said to Ms Phillips: “How come you haven’t been here, and how come you haven’t been supporting the 300 parents who have been protesting here for the last four weeks? Where have you been?”
Ms Phillips replied: “I don’t agree with the protest. I don’t agree that you get to pick and choose which equality you can and can’t have.”
She went on to say that “our equality laws protect us all. I want them to protect you, and actually I want to protect you, and actually, I want to protect the Muslim community.”
The dispute at Anderton Park follows a similar dispute at Parkfield Community School, also in Birmingham, in which a programme called ‘No Outsiders’ was introduced to teach LGBT equality alongside existing sex and relationship education.
At Parkfield, the course was put on hold during Ramadan out of deference to the Muslim parents but has been urged by many to continue.