Nazir Afzal breaks silence on Birmingham dispute over LGBT classes: parents are being told lies
By Barfi Culture Team
30th May 2019

On one side are parents and activists ̶ mostly Muslim so far but increasingly supported by conservative Jews, Christians and Sikhs ̶ who want an end to classes teaching about LGBT acceptance in schools.

On the other side are pro-LGBT activists ̶ some of whom are Muslims too ̶ who want the classes to continue and accuse the parents of homophobia. The parents deny the claim.

As tensions escalated, last month Nazir Afzal stepped in the middle to help resolve them. He is the respected former prosecutor for the CPS who has done much to challenge Islamophobia and was instrumental in bringing prosecutions against grooming gangs.

Today he has finally broken his silence.

In a video, which Barfi Culture has transcribed in full, he said this today:

"Hello, my name is Nazir Afzal. I have stood and watched fellow Muslims protest at primary schools throughout the country with great sadness. I was invited to mediate in the Anderton Park [School] dispute, by parents, the city council and the school. Up to now I have said nothing publicly, because it was important for me to try and discuss this with those involved. However its time for me to say something."

"I met with the parents and those supporting them, and informed them that this was a dispute based on misunderstanding, some of it deliberate but all of it fixable. Then I watched some people, on both sides, try and hijack the dispute for their own ends."

"I am however, most concerned by those manipulating the parents in this matter. I have seen them walking around with materials and documents which they have pulled off the internet, and which they wrongly and maliciously say the school is teaching."

"I have examined the curriculum myself and there is no specific LGBT content, no reference to gay sex. None at all. There is reference, as there should be, to equality."

"When I met with the parents my attention was drawn to two books. That's all. One involving two male penguins and an egg, which one parent said was 'forcing LGBT down our children's throats'. I disagree but nonetheless that's what she feels. I mentioned how research shows that homosexuality is common in nature, including giraffes and how would she feel about a book involving two male giraffes given that's the reality. And she said, 'they have small brains'. Well that's the ignorance that feeds homophobia."

"The other book was about a boy who chooses to dress up as a princess. That's it. Nothing else. In many majority-Muslim countries, Transgender rights are upheld and hate against them is outlawed. I've seen this first hand. On both occasions, when the book is given to a child its qualified with this message: 'Some people may not agree with this, even though its permitted by the law of the land, but its best you discuss this with your parents to find out what they think'."

"I cannot fault the school in their approach. It involves the parents in their child's education. It tries to deal with the conflict we have between the protected characteristic of belief and the protected characteristic of sexual orientation. Until the government mandates something, we are going to have to do this on a case-by-case basis. But I cannot think of a better way to do that than the school has chosen to do it.

I'll go further and say the head teacher has offered to go through the books that she's purchased with the parents, to agree at what age the child should be given each book. Together with the continued practice of advising the children to discuss the books with their parents, this is the way out of this mess. If need be I will sit with the parents to go through this exercise, but its best done with the school."

"Let me be clear: no book's going to be banned. This school is a high-performing, high-quality, hugely successful place, with staff who truly care about their pupils."

"Finally, its appalling that grown men, and its mostly men, hang around schools shouting and screaming. We abide by the laws of the countries we are in, and this must stop now."

"As we rise up against hate in all its form, including anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, anti-Muslim hatred, we cannot and must not pick and choose what victims of hatred should be protected. Its all or nothing. Nobody can truly fight for equality by having some people more equal than others. Thank you."

Watch the full statement on Nazir Afzal's website.

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