Bristol Pride blasts mayor appointment of councillor who made anti-gay jibe about Ian McKellen

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Bristol Pride has criticised the mayoral appointment of a councillor who said he was “disturbed” that gay actor Sir Ian McKellen had been visiting schools.

Councillor Chris Windows made the comments in 2010, after Sir Ian had visited Bristol schools with Stonewall.

In January, Councillor Windows was nominated by the Conservative Party for the ceremonial post of Lord Mayor, which traditionally rotates between the parties, but his nomination was thrown into doubt after opposition from Green councillors.

However, his nomination has since been cleared.

Bristol Pride said in a statement on Friday: “We feel that Councillor Windows does not represent the views of Bristol and should not be made Lord Mayor of Bristol. The Lord Mayor should work towards challenging all hate crime and champion and celebrate all communities in Bristol both at home and in their national and international duties.”

Councillor Windows has rejected suggestions of homophobia.

In a statement in January he said: “At that time, I expressed reservations about the involvement of the organisation Stonewall, and the actor Sir Ian McKellen, visiting our schools in order to talk about homophobic bullying.

“I voluntarily suspended myself from the Group (and Council activities) until an investigation into my conduct had been undertaken by the Conservative Party.

“In addition, I personally arranged (at my own expense) to visit the headquarters of Stonewall, in London. Once this had taken place, and the internal enquiry into my actions satisfactorily concluded, I resumed my Council responsibilities.

“It is important to emphasise here that throughout this process, the allegation of homophobia was neither substantiated, nor pursued through the Authority’s own complaints procedures.”