LGBT fire conference attacked by councillor

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A local Bristol politician has generated headlines by attacking a highly-successful conference held in the city by the fire authority earlier this year.

Councillor Albert Murphy, known as ‘Spud,’ branded October’s Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender Equality in the Fire Service – An Absolute Taboo? event a waste of money.

The chair of Avon Fire Authority, who hosted the event, has defended the conference and branded the councillor ignorant.

“I am astonished that Councillor Murphy seems unaware of his responsibilities as an employer,” Terry Walker told the Bristol Evening Post.

“Not only do we have a statutory duty to promote equality, we also have a moral responsibility to tackle and eradicate all forms of prejudice.

“It is a disgrace that Councillor Murphy questions ‘What has this got to do with the fire service?’ as it publicly demonstrates his ignorance of the legislation he has a responsibility to comply with as an employer and must raise questions as to his suitability to hold office.

“In my view discrimination has fear and ignorance at its heart and it is right and proper that we do all that we can to raise awareness and improve understanding of people’s difference, in whatever form that may be.”

The two day conference was hailed as a huge success by all involved.

It cost more than £32,000, of which only £2,100 came from Avon Fire and Rescue’s budget.

Gay equality organisation Stonewall worked in partnership with the Fire Brigades Union on the conference and representatives from the London Fire Brigade, the Chief Fire Officers Association, West Yorkshire Fire Service and the Scottish Transgender Alliance spoke at the event.

The 210 delegates also took part in workshops and sharing examples of best practice with each other.

Currently less than 0.5% of the fire service is openly lesbian, gay or bixexual, equivalent to less than 270 people.

Nationwide, 7% of the working population identify themselves as LGB.