Birmingham anti-LGBT protesters banned from school by injunction

Birmingham anti-LGBT protesters banned from school by injunction

Protests against the teaching of LGBT equality at a Birmingham school have been halted temporarily following a high court injunction.

Birmingham city council secured the injunction to protect Anderton Park primary school. The temporary order, which came into force immediately, bans protesters from an exclusion zone in the streets surrounding the school in the Moseley area of Birmingham.

The headteacher, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, said she was delighted with the ruling, issued by Mr Justice Warby QC, sitting at Birmingham civil court.

“It’s an absolutely glorious day for us, for the children, parents and staff of Anderton Park. We are delighted a new order has been granted that keeps the kids and staff safe from the protests,” she said.

“It also strengthens the protection for us as it refers to all aspects of teaching, not just equalities. We are pleased we can go back to school and tell our staff we will be free from protests outside the school for the rest of the year.”

Following the ruling the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, voiced her support for teachers at the school and said pupils had a right to take part in such lessons.

Longfield, was asked at a Commons education select committee hearing on Tuesday whether there had been enough focus on the rights of children in the debate.

She told MPs: “No, I don’t think there has. I’ve been pleased that people have come forward and said that the programme [of lessons] must go ahead and that the curriculum must be upheld, but I think that needs to be said stronger and stronger.”

She said she had been involved in campaigning for years for such lessons on relationships and sex education. “There can be no point where anyone, I think, parents or otherwise, start to opt out of that curriculum.

“It’s not something we allow for any other aspect of the curriculum and it’s something which those children have a right to be able to take part in.”

The Guardian reported last month that the protests against LGBT lessons in schools had been hijacked by those with a “religious, extremist agenda”.

Protesters have stood outside the school every day for 12 weeks with microphones, chanting: “Let kids be kids,” and “Our kids, our choice.” Other protesters have carried placards with the message: “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”

They have also demanded the resignation of Hewitt-Clarkson. The school does not teach No Outsiders, the programme that informs children about LGBT identities, but it does share equality messages and books with pupils.

The latest order is similar to an interim injunction granted in an emergency hearing at the high court in London last month. It specifically bans the chief protesters Shakeel Afsar, Rosina Afsar and Amir Ahmed from taking part in or coordinating protests in the exclusion zone.

Warby quashed the original injunction but immediately imposed a fresh interim order, with varied conditions. “I find it likely the claimant [city council] will establish at trial some of the protesting has gone beyond lawful limits and strayed into harassing, alarming or distressing conduct, through its persistence, timing and context,” he said.

Protesters brought the challenge after they were not given notice of the original interim injunction hearing in London.

This comes as Hewitt-Clarkson called for the Labour party to remove the whip from the local MP, Roger Godsiff, after he sided with the demonstrators.

She accused Godsiff of fuelling prejudice after a video emerged of him telling protesters “you’re right”, and said his comments were “quite discriminatory” and had “created a sense of incredulity” among his constituents.

“We have to tackle prejudice. We have to seek to eliminate discrimination, and actually his comments seem to have fuelled discrimination and fuelled prejudice,” she said.

Angela Rayner, the shadow education secretary, reported Godsiff to Nick Brown, the chief whip, on Sunday for making “discriminatory and irresponsible” comments. The Labour party has said he will be rebuked for his comments.

A full trial to consider the injunction is to take place between 22 and 31 July.

Guardian

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