Conservative councillor Chris Windows's 'homophobic' comments slated
A CONSERVATIVE councillor has been condemned for making "homophobic" comments about a gay rights charity and the actor Sir Ian McKellen at a public meeting.
Tory Chris Windows told Bristol City Council's full meeting last night that he was "disturbed" that campaign group Stonewall and a "certain actor" had been invited to speak to Bristol schoolchildren.
Councillor makes 'homophobic' comments and is condemned by other councillors - see video 2 hrs 20mins – 2hrs 27mins
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The actor he referred to was Sir Ian McKellen – star of films such as Lord of the Rings and X-Men. He came out as being gay in 1988 and founded Stonewall, a charity that campaigns for gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
Sir Ian visited the city last week to talk to pupils at City Academy in Lawrence Hill and Fairfield High School in Horfield about homophobic bullying – where people are insulted or attacked because they are gay or lesbian.
Mr Windows is the same councillor who made the complaint to the police that led to Lib Dem councillor Shirley Brown being convicted for racially aggravated harassment over her "coconut" comment to Tory Jay Jethwa at a meeting last year.
His comment about Stonewall – made during the council's discussion of a plan for "community cohesion" – was met with cries of "shame" and "disgraceful" by Labour and Lib Dem councillors.
Mr Windows, who represents Henbury, said: "I'm not homophobic, I never have been. I just don't like undue pressure put onto young people, particularly when it's a famous character.
"I do believe we should be able to express our views with out receiving abuse."
Simon Rayner (Lib Dem, Kingsweston) said: "Can I translate what he just said? He doesn't think gay people should be allowed near children in schools."
Mr Windows said: "I did not say that and never would. He's just trying to twist things. I've nothing against people with a different sexual orientation to myself.
"I just don't think we should make a fuss out of it. We should leave things where they belong, in the bedroom."
No Tory member spoke about Mr Windows' comments at the meeting, either to support or condemn them.
But the councillor was criticised by Lib Dem and Labour councillors. Alex Woodman (Lib Dem, Cabot) said: "I wholeheartedly, unequivocally condemn the outrageous homophobic remarks by Chris Windows. He should be ashamed."
Labour leader Helen Holland (Whitchurch Park) said: "A comment like that shows how much the community cohesion strategy is needed. Young people hearing that kind of comment are going to be turned off the idea of people representing them or coming out.
"If I had the chance to see Sir Ian McKellen when I was at school I'm sure I'd have loved it."