Labour mayoral hopeful Salma Yaqoob has been accused of homophobia and the members of the parliamentary party’s LGBT group has demanded her removal.
The LGBT+ Parliamentary Party Group has written to Fadel Takrouri, Labour’s regional director for the West Midlands, claiming allowing Yaqoob to join the party was a “terrible mistake”.
On Sunday, Yaqoob passed a selection interview and made it onto the shortlist for the mayoral candidacy alongside MP Liam Byrne and Pete Lowe.
Highlighting a series of comments made by Yaqoob in the past, the letter said the former Birmingham councillor “has form when it comes to homophobia and sharing a platform with those who propagate it.”
They accused Yaqoob of referring to homosexuality as a “choice of lifestyle” during a television debate.
They also said Yaqoob criticised same-sex equality lessons taught, called No Outsiders, in Parkfield School in Birmingham.
A recording has emerged of Yaqoob saying the issue is “nuanced”.
She is heard saying: “There’s a responsibility on the school’s side that didn’t follow their statutory duty to actually engage with parents properly.”
Criticising Andrew Moffat, the school’s assistant head who designed the lessons, Yaqoob adds: “He came to this school knowing the sensitives but didn’t engage with the parents.”
The letter is signed by MPs Stephen Doughty, Angela Eagle, Chris Bryant, Ben Bradshaw, Ged Killen, Peter Kyle and Wes Streeting, ex-general secretary Lord Collins and MEP Seb Dance.
Responding previously to criticism of her stance on LGBT equality, Yaqoob issued a statement on her Facebook page, saying: “My support and defence of LGBTQ+ rights and equality is consistent and longstanding. Whilst I am not surprised, given the smears I have already been subjected to since standing for selection in the Mayoral race, I am saddened at attempts to misportray my record of solidarity.”
She went on to say: “It really is quite a stretch to try to portray my passionate advocacy for genuine pluralism as any kind of evidence of bigotry or prejudice on my part.
“I am a proud ally in both my NHS work and political campaigns, and stand with my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters against all forms of oppression and remain committed to upholding and advocating for equality and human rights.”