‘Objecting to Pride not homophobic’: King Lawal cleared

26 February 2024

Following a six-month investigation, a Conservative Party disciplinary sub-committee has rejected a complaint against one of its Christian councillors and concluded that criticising the LGBTQI+ Pride movement is not ‘homophobic.’

In July 2023, Cllr King Lawal, 31, who has been a councillor at North Northamptonshire Unitary Council for over two years, had his life torn apart for sharing a tweet which gave the Christian and biblical position on LGBT pride events.

For posting the tweet, which said ‘Pride is a sin not a virtue’, he had the whip removed by the local Conservative Group at North Northamptonshire Unitary Council and was removed as Chair of the Health Scrutiny Committee and vice-chair of the Scrutiny Management Board and other positions.

Unusually, Cllr Lawal was told that the Membership governance team at Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) was advising the council to suspend him and wanted the investigation to be centralised rather than local. He was told that a standards inquiry would also follow.

Within days of the tweet, Cllr Lawal was also warned of a possible police investigation and received a potentially illegal ultimatum by a local authority which said that he must resign from his own business or face a substantial contract being scrapped.

He was even banned from holding surgeries at the local library and removed as a trustee for an organisation that helps children get access to green spaces.

Another local Conservative Party councillor, Anthony Stevens, was arrested at his home in front of his children and investigated for a ‘hate crime’, for expressing support for Cllr Lawal on X.

During the saga, CCHQ publicly sought to distance themselves from Cllr Lawal’s suspension when behind the scenes they were officially investigating him ‘confidentially.’

Cllr Lawal, who has been supported by the Christian Legal Centre throughout the ordeal, was reinstated by a local Conservative group in October 2023, and restored to other board positions at the council, but CCHQ refused to drop the complaint against him.

In a written judgment sent to Cllr Lawal this week, however, a ‘disciplinary sub-committee’ panel ruled that the complaint that Cllr Lawal had ‘allegedly misused or abused social media’ was ‘not proven.’

It had been alleged that Cllr Lawal’s post was ‘homophobic’ and that ‘by posting this content [Cllr Lawal] has failed to sustain and [is] in conflict with the purpose, objects and values of the Conservative Party.’

Concluding its decision, the panel said:

“The Panel considers that it would be wrong to conflate an objection to the Pride movement as homophobic. The Panel recognises that [Cllr Lawal’s] posts are a representation of his religious beliefs, which he is free and entitled to hold. Accordingly, the posts, whilst they may be offensive to some, would on balance not to be considered by a reasonable and fair-minded observer to be discriminatory or homophobic per se.”

Time to stand up

Responding to the decision, Cllr Lawal said: “I appreciate the conclusions of the panel, but I am appalled that I was subjected to this investigation in the first place. For over six months I have had the cloud of this investigation hanging over me, even when the local group reinstated me.

“From the beginning CCHQ, or certain individuals there, were pulling the strings and putting immense pressure on the local group to suspend me. Publicly they distanced themselves from any involvement in that suspension while telling me that they were investigating me and that I had to keep that confidential.

“What has happened to me is a microcosm of what is coming under a potential Labour government, and how in many ways significant factions of the Conservative Party have turned their back on their own supporters and values.

“How I have been treated is really troubling for a democratic society. It must ring alarm bells as this can now happen to anyone that is not in support of this extreme LGBT movement.

“The Bible tells us that to live out a true Christian calling you have to pick up your cross and that the world will hate you for standing for Him and truth. I am determined to continue to fight for justice and to clear my name and ensure that this does not happen to another person.

“My ambition for the future is to stand as an MP; this country and the Conservative Party especially, needs more passionate Christian leaders and politicians, not less. It is time that the true voice of the majority of Christian was heard in Parliament.” 

Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, said: “The repercussions faced by Cllr Lawal for expressing his Christian beliefs have been unprecedented. What happened demonstrates that Christians who hold public office can no longer express their beliefs without having their careers and lives dismantled.

“CCHQ should have stood by Cllr Lawal and defended his Christian freedoms instead of joining in the attack and mirroring intolerant Labour party activists determined to eradicate Christian beliefs from the public square.

“What has happened to Cllr Lawal, and Cllr Anthony Stevens, has been a stain upon the Conservative and Labour parties, and more must be done to protect Christian MPs and councillors who express standard Christian beliefs on a range of important issues.”  

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