UKIP Councillor: I won’t attend equality training as it’s ‘indoctrination’

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A UKIP councillor who earlier this year suggested shops should be allowed to refuse to serve women and gay people remains defiant.

Donna Edmunds lost out in her bid to become a Member of the European Parliament on Sunday night, although she remains a UKIP councillor in Lewes.

In March, Ms Edmunds suggested in an online forum that homophobic discrimination was acceptable.

She had been asked to state whether she supported the views of Oxfordshire Councillor David Silvester.

Mr Silvester was suspended and then expelled from the party after blaming the floods of December 2013 and early this year on David Cameron’s decision to legalise equal marriage.

Ms Edmunds said she disagreed with Mr Silvester’s views but added: “I believe that all business owners, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, should be allowed to withhold their services from whomever that choose whenever they choose.

“It’s their business. Why should they be forced to serve or sell to anyone?”

When asked by The Argus to clarify her remarks, she told the paper: “I’m a libertarian so I don’t think the state should have a role on who business owners serve.

“I wouldn’t refuse to serve gay people. I’m not saying their position is a correct one. I’m saying they should be free to make that choice themselves.”

Ms Edmunds then went further on Facebook, saying “iron fist” equality laws were “unnecessary”.

In response, UKIP Chairman Steve Crowther criticised Ms Edmunds for her “ultra-libertarianism”.

The Argus reports Ms Edmunds has since been instructed to attend equality training by Lewes District Council, following a complaint about her comments.

However, she has refused. In an email sent to Catherine Knight, assistant director of corporate services at Lewes District Council, Ms Edmunds said: “I am perfectly happy and content that I have not broken any equality legislation. I see no need for any ‘training’.

“I will not be attending equality training – or, as I call it – indoctrination. I will consider any further attempt by the council to make me attend to be nothing short of bullying. We do not live in a fascist state quite yet.”

A council spokesman said: “As a matter of course, the council offers regular training – including equalities training – to both staff and councillors. Whilst we strongly urge all councillors to attend the training provided, it is a matter for each individual councillor to decide what courses they go to.”