We:Are, The organisers of the Bristol Pride Events, has criticised the appointment to Bristol Lord Mayor of Councillor Chris Windows.
As PrideWest reported in November 2010, Cllr Windows caused anger within both the council and LGBT community after voicing his concerns regarding a school visit from gay rights charity Stonewall, and its co-founder actor, Sir Ian McKellen.
Speaking during a community cohesion strategy session , The Conservative Councillor , who represents the Henbury ward, told the chamber that he felt “some of the issue could be counter-productive” and that he was “unhappy and a little disturbed of the involvement of Stonewall with our local schools particularly the use of a ‘certain leading actor’ as a potential role model for our impressionable young people”.
Following his comments, Cllr Windows suspended himself, but was later re-instated following a review by his party, and he attended the Stonewall HQ in London to learn more about their activities.
However, during the recent election for the post which traditionally rotates between the parties, several people, including Green Councillor Gus Hoyt, voiced that they would not be prepared to support Cllr Window’s nomination. Despite this, his nomination was cleared.
Bristol Pride said in a statement on Friday: “We feel that Councillor Windows does not represent the views of Bristol and should not be made Lord Mayor of Bristol. The Lord Mayor should work towards challenging all hate crime and champion and celebrate all communities in Bristol both at home and in their national and international duties.”
Additionally, They posted a recording of the original speech made by Cllr Windows on their Twitter Feed :
— Bristol Pride (@wearefest) March 13, 2014
Councillor’s Christian Martin (LibDem) and Gus Hoyt (Green) also responded on Twitter following reports that the public were being told that the quotes from Cllr Windows were fictitious and politically motivated :
Former lord mayor Peter Main, Bristol’s first openly gay lord mayor, also commented on the situation telling the Bristol Post the move would be “damaging” for the city.
The Lib Dem said: “Chris Windows doesn’t represent Bristol and does not represent what the city stands for. He won’t bring the city together. He will divide the city instead. The lord mayor has an important role in personifying the city and uniting communities. He or she is the figurehead of the city and he has to go to every part of the city.
I don’t think he, with his views, will be able to do that. I personally feel the good work which has been done over the last several years is going to be damaged.”
Mr Windows, 71, dismissed Mr Main’s comments and denied he would damage the role, and strongly refuting allegations of homophobia, saying is comments were misunderstood and taken out of context.