The man leading demonstrations against the teaching of lessons about LGBT relationships at a Birmingham primary school has implied that he and his fellow protesters have been the victims of a racist high court judgement.
The high court yesterday ruled that a temporary exclusion zone around Anderton Park school, stopping protesters from demonstrating outside the gates, should be made permanent.
Commenting on the decision, protest leader Shakeel Afsar said: “When you look at those representing the council and the court, compare faces and backgrounds.
“The judge is white, the council’s barrister is white, the council’s legal team is white, the teachers who gave evidence were white, the witnesses who gave evidence for the council were white.
“The councillors who misrepresented their voters were white, the police officers who presented witness statements for the council were white.”
He added: “A lack of impartiality is unfair, and when unfairness affects justice, that in itself is injustice.”
Judge Mr Justice Warby’s high-court pronouncement yesterday morning brought to an end an anxious wait for the school’s staff & supporters. The demonstrations outside the school had been taking place for several months until, in the summer, Birmingham City Council won a temporary injunction to stop them. Protesters continued to demonstrate but from outside the exclusion zone.
In court yesterday morning, the judge rejected claims that the school promotes homosexuality.
He also said that the protests had had an adverse impact of pupils, staff and residents, and had made false claims.
He did, however, lift restrictions on the use of social media, and also said that he did not accept that the protesters posed a risk of harm to others.
Responding to the ruling, Birmingham City Council's Director of Education & Skills, Dr Tim O’Neill, was reported by BirminghamLive as saying: "We are really pleased for the pupils, staff, parents and wider community that the injunction has been upheld.
"This was always about protecting the school and community from the escalating levels of anti-social behaviour of the protests, not about trying to stop peaceful protest.
"As this court case has demonstrated, there remains a gap between the reality of what is and isn’t being taught at the school. Protests of this kind only serve to attract fringe elements whose aim is to stoke division and hatred. We would therefore continue to encourage any concerned parents to engage with the school to have constructive discussions and address any issues.
"Looking ahead, it is important to remember that the Department for Education is introducing compulsory relationships education next year, helping children from all backgrounds understand the society they are growing up in, and fostering respect for others and for difference.
"This will include consultation with parents, giving them space to share concerns and ask questions, and allowing the school to listen to parents’ views, though ultimately the school will decide on how this part of the curriculum is taught. It is really important therefore that we support and create opportunities to have open dialogue at all our schools across the city.
"Birmingham is diverse and inclusive - these are its strengths - and we must all come together to ensure all children get the best education possible and are able to fully engage in all aspects of their life in this wonderful city and country. To this end the city council will continue to work with the school to look at the best way to resolve any ongoing concerns.
"The city council will always stand up for the rights of all children, whoever they are and whatever family they are from.
"Thanks must go to everyone involved in bringing this case to court and for the school staff, pupils, parents and wider community for their patience as we took the painstaking steps to ensure the case would be successful.”
The full judgement can be read at: https://www.judiciary.uk/judgments/birmingham-city-council-v-mr-shakeel-afsar-others/
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