Warwickshire Pride cancels protest after Claverdon Parish Council chair apologises for homophobic post on social media

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Warwickshire Pride has cancelled a planned protest at the next Claverdon Parish Council meeting after the council chairman recently apologised for a comment he made on social media.

Members of the Warwickshire Pride group had planned their protest for the parish council meeting held next week on Tuesday November 12.

The group planned the protest because of a homophobic comment on social media made by the parish council's leader, Simon Lawton. Secondly, because Claverdon Parish Council have ignored two attempts to raise a complaint with them about Cllr Lawton's comment.

The protest was cancelled after Cllr Lawton shared a letter of apology he sent to a member of the Claverdon's LGBT+ community.

Warwickshire Pride said: "We accept Cllr Lawton's apology as sincere and therefore will take no further action against him in relation to complaints and protests."

The Courier and Kenilworth Weekly News published a story in September about the original incident, which involved Cllr Lawton making a post on his personal Facebook page where he referred to gay people as ‘those who chose to swim in unnatural waters’.

As a result of the post there was a request for Cllr Lawton to resign from his position as chair of the parish council, and Claverdon resident Jon Abbott asked for a public apology for the comments.

The apology letter, which was addressed to Jon Abbott said: "I have taken some time to consider how best to apologise to you personally and more widely in open forum and have been fortunate to be offered advice from mutual friends in this respect.

"It was never my intention to cause offence but I completely and now fully understand how my comment has quite rightly been met with such disgust and anger.

"I have now realised and fully accept that what I thought was an innocuous quote, was the most stupid of actions."

While Warwickshire Pride said they were satisfied with the apology they still questioned why Stratford District Council and Claverdon Parish Council would not accept their complaint. The two councils however did respond to their complaint.

Warwickshire Pride said: "Apparently it's because the comment made by Cllr Lawton was in a personal capacity, not while on council business.

"Warwickshire Pride rejects that explanation and is aware of complaints about councillors being accepted when they have made comments of a racist nature in a personal capacity, for example.

"We will continue to challenge this policy, which seems open to interpretation, and make it clear that comments of a homophobic nature must be considered as seriously as other types of hate comments.

"However, we do accept Cllr Lawton's apology and consider this specific matter closed. We have offered LGBT+ awareness training to Claverdon Parish Council and hope they take up that offer."