North Northamptonshire Labour councillors in silent protest as Cllr King Lawal addresses meeting over 'being gay is a sin' comments
A Conservative councillor who was suspended from his party after tweeting that being gay was sin during pride month has addressed a full council meeting in an attempt to draw the matter to a close
But Cllr King Lawal (Con, Queensway) stopped short of apologising or withdrawing his remarks, instead saying he had not meant to cause alarm.
Cllr King Lawal was investigated by the Conservative party after his tweets caused serious upset in the gay community. He also had the whip withdrawn but appeared on GB News to defend himself, saying he would sue those organisations that had ‘cancelled’ him.
At a closed meeting of the council’s Tory group last week he was told he would be readmitted if he apologised for his behaviour in the council chamber.
He did so tonight, and Labour members who stood up as Cllr Lawal read his statement were told by monitoring officer Adele Wylie that their behaviour was intimidating and they must sit down. They did so, but Cllr Jean Addison (Lab, Corby West) left the chamber.
Cllr Lawal said: “On 29th June I posted a tweet which I understand some people were offended by.
“The tweet was an expression of my Christian faith by quoting passages from the bible.
“As a councillor I act equally for the residents of the areas in which I’m elected in all areas of debate and discussion
"I represent all members of my constituency without fear or favour and undertake my role as a councillor with impartiality and without bias.
“My intention was not to cause harassment, alarm or distress to any person or persons.”
Leader of North Northamptonshire Council Cllr Jason Smithers (Con, Oundle) said: “On behalf of the Conservative members of NNC I can confirm we treat all members of the community equally and without bias.
"In June Cllr Lawal posted a tweet about which the monitoring officer received complaints of breaches of the councillors code of conduct.
“As leader of the council I took swift action. The complaint process is now complete.”
Following the meeting, Cllr Matt Keane and Cllr Leanne Buckingham, leader and deputy leader of North Northamptonshire Labour Group issued a joint statement which read: “We believed it was important as a Labour Group to show solidarity with the LGBTQIA+ community many of whom have been deeply upset by the tweet from Cllr King Lawal
"We dressed in pro Pride colours and stood up to hear his apology. We wanted Cllr Lawal to address the hurt that he caused to the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies. Cllr Lawal has been given the Conservative whip back and we don’t believe he expressed any apology in his statement at tonight’s full council and it certainly did not go far enough to address the hurt felt by many of our residents.”