Bromley candidate criticised over ‘anti-gay’ election pledge

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An Independent candidate for the Bromley and Chislehurst by-election has been criticised after pledging to bring the BBC to account for broadcasting homosexuality on television.

The resident of the late Conservative MP Eric Forth’s constituency, who claims to be known locally as Son of Eric for his trenchant and non-politically correct opinions, is campaigning to ensure the BBC remains a “family channel.”

His by-election flyer states, “The BBC should be brought to account for showing homosexual acts on TV.

“Since the death of Mary Whitehouse the BBC thinks its open season on what it shows on our television screens, with a particularly keen interest to show everything from the expletive-filled, blasphemy-laden “Jerry Springer-The Opera” to homosexual oral sex on BBC2.

“If elected I would not stand by whilst the BBC squirms and wriggles its way out of broadcasting such, what shall we call it? – filth, encouraging it to become, once again, a family channel.”

Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay charity Stonewall told It’s strange that Mr Hemming-Clark feels upset about homosexuality on the BBC as most gay people cannot find it.

“The BBC has an obligation to serve all licence payers including gay people.”

Mr Hemming Clark told he is not against gay people but was referring to a specific BBC programme which showed oral sex between two men, “It’s the morality angle, it’s the promiscuity bit I am against, it’s what someone does with that orientation.”

The programme in question was BBC2’s In The Line of Beauty, a spokesman told “BBC2 is committed to adaptations of contemporary novels and Alan Hollinghurst’s critically acclaimed and Booker Prize winning novel ‘The Line of Beauty’ is a modern day classic which gives an honest account of a period in our recent history which is relevant today. The three-part serial complies with BBC Editorial Policy Guidelines and is appropriately scheduled for an adult TV audience on BBC-2.

“The Line of Beauty was appropriately signposted for its content, and was broadcast post watershed.

Last year Bromley Council was threatened with legal action by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone after initially refusing to allow civil partnerships in the local authority.

Mr Hemming Clark said that while he does have a problem with the whole idea of civil partnerships, he promised not to exclude anyone from it.

Rachel Reeves Labour’s candidate in the by-election said: ‘My view is that this Labour Government has done more to establish and promote equality of rights across all groups in society than ever before, including that of the gay and lesbian community. This is a record I am proud of and fully support.

“‘This is in marked contrast to the Tories of Bromley Borough council who consistently opposed the right of a civil partnership ceremony for same sex couples.

“I will continue to fight for the rights of all groups and people of Bromley Chislehurst rather than promote prejudice and discrimination.”

Ben Abbotts, Liberal Democrat candidate in the Bromley by-election said: “John Hemming-Clark’s comments regarding the BBC only serve to remind us of the clear choices in the forthcoming by election.

“The Liberal Democrat’s are talking about the real issues affecting Bromley residents, anti-social behaviour, high levels of crime locally, health services, and the mixed bag of Tories and independent Tories are using the election to highlight their own prejudices.

“Bromley wants an MP who will fight for all of our community, and spend their time improving things on the ground in the constituency.”

A spokesman for the Conservatives Party, who are being represented by Bob Neill, former Conservative Greater London Assembly leader, said: “We intend to run a positive campaign focused on the issues that really matter to the people of Bromley, like crime and the local environment.”

Mr Hemming Clark, Mr Abbotts, Ms Reeves, and Mr Neill, along with UK Independence Party candidate Nigel Farage, will compete in the by-election on June 29 2006 to replace Right wing Conservative MP, Eric Forth, who died at the age of 61 last month after battling with cancer.