Statue of racist homophobe and founder of the Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell, to be removed over fears of attack

statue of Robert Baden-Powell

A statue of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouts, is set to be removed from Poole Quay because it feared to be on a “target list for attack” over his racist and homophobic views.

A statue of slave trader Edward Colston was toppled by anti-racism protesters in Bristol on Sunday (June 7) and thrown into a harbour, and police suspect that Baden-Powell’s statue could be next.

Campaigner and former Bournemouth East Labour parliamentary candidate Corrie Drew told BBC Breakfast: “I know that we’ve all heard of Robert Baden-Powell for starting the Scout movement, but actually a quick look into his history shows that he was very open about his views against homosexuality and that he was a very open supporter of Hitler and of fascism and quite a strong, outspoken racist.”

She added: “I think unfortunately we can’t just excuse people’s shocking values because they were in the past. There were plenty of people who didn’t espouse those values at that time.

“I think we can commemorate the positive work without commemorating the man.”

Who was Robert Baden-Powell?

Robert Baden-Powell was born in 1857 and joined the army in 1876. He was based in India, and specialised in scouting, map-making and reconnaissance, according to iNews.

After returning to the UK, he held an experimental camp for 20 boys in Dorset in 1907. He retired from the army in 1910 to focus on building the Scout movement.

Baden-Powell was openly homophobic, praised the Nazi party and declassified MI5 files revealed in 2010 that he was even invited to meet Adolf Hitler after discussions about forming ties with the Hitler Youth movement.

Leader of Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (BCP) Council Vikki Slade said in statement: “While famed for the creation of the Scouts, we also recognise that there are some aspects of Robert Baden-Powell’s life that are considered less worthy of commemoration.

‘Therefore, we are removing the statue so that we can properly involve all relevant communities and groups in discussions about its future, including whether a more educational presentation of his life in a different setting might be more appropriate.”

A Scouts spokesperson told iNews: “Baden-Powell was the founder of the Scout movement. Currently there are over 54 million scouts in the world and we operate in almost every nation on earth promoting tolerance and global solidarity.

“The Scout movement is resolute in its commitment to inclusion and diversity and members continually reflect and challenge ourselves in how we live our values.”

The UK Scouts’ official policy on supporting LGBT+ kids advises staff “to listen without making any judgements or assumptions”, to not “assume everyone is heterosexual” and also covers correct use of pronouns, changes to uniform and shower and toilet facilities.