Town mayor and Tory councillor resigns after apologising for raising Pride flag

Keighley Pride

A Conservative councillor and town mayor has resigned after his apology for taking part in a
Pride event sparked outrage.

Councillor Mohammed Nazam participated in a Pride flag-raising ceremony in Keighley, West Yorkshire on Friday (16 June), but later said doing so “contradicts” his Muslim faith.

In a Facebook post this weekend, Nazam apologised “wholeheartedly” for his “lapse in

“I understand the disappointment and hurt my actions may have caused, and I am truly sorry for any distress or confusion I have contributed to… I have also personally repented for this error and reflected deeply on the consequences of my actions,” Nazam’s post in the private Keighley Pakistanis group read.

The town mayor has raised the Pride flag every year since Keighley’s first Pride in 2019. But Nazam, who was elected to the position a month ago, said he “should have respectfully declined the request”.

He confirmed on Monday (19 June) that he had resigned as town mayor and quit the Conservative Party “with immediate effect”. He will sit as an independent on Keighley Town Council and Bradford Council.

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His resignation follows criticism from LGBT and community groups.

‘As mayor, you’re expected to represent everyone’

Keighley Pride chair David Shaw told PinkNews Nazam’s resignation had been “inevitable”. The apology “sent a very poor message… that we are not accepting, not everybody’s welcome”, he said.

“He should not have agreed to [raise the flag] if he was uncomfortable – but neither should he have agreed to be town mayor,” Shaw added.

Laz Bewick, an organiser of neighbouring community group Queer Saltaire who grew up in Keighley, said Nazam’s resignation was the “only viable resolution” to the controversy.

“As mayor, you’re expected to represent everyone. If you can’t do that, you shouldn’t be in that role,” they told PinkNews.

“Keighley has a large LGBT+ community who deserve to have representation that means they feel valued and not othered.

“It is important we don’t further divide communities and that all LGBT+ individuals, including those of Muslim heritage, can feel they belong within their home town.”

Jenn Wilson and Sid Akbar of Bradford-based theatre company Dhamaka Arts – which recently premiered the autobiographical story of Sid Akbar, a queer man growing up in a traditional Muslim community – said it was “disappointing to hear a political leader in the Bradford district express regret about speaking up for acceptance, community and mutual respect”.

“It’s damaging not just to LGBTQ+ communities but also to local faith communities in the backlash to this intolerance,” they said.

Mohammed Nazam took part in a Pride flag-raising ceremony
Mohammed Nazam took part in a Pride flag-raising ceremony in Keighley, West Yorkshire, but later said doing so “contradicts” his Muslim faith. (Racheal Tscherniga)

Hours before resigning, Nazam was suspended by the Conservative Group on Bradford Council, pending an investigation.

Robbie Moore, Conservative MP for Keighley and Ilkley, had also urged him to “apologise and consider his position”.

In his resignation statement, Nazam said the last few days had been a “humbling experience”.

‘This issue goes against our beliefs’

However, he added: “All elected Muslim representatives are in the same position as this issue goes against our beliefs, and if questioned would not be able to offer an alternative narrative.

“By my apology I did not mean any harm to any member of my constituency. My religion teaches respect and tolerance for all and the law of the land.”

Bradford Council leader Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe said councillors are “elected by their communities to serve all members of those communities”.

“We have a code of conduct to adhere to as elected members and as a council we have a deep commitment to inclusion – the diversity of the district is one of Bradford’s great strengths.”

Cllr Rebecca Poulsen, leader of the Conservative Group on Bradford Council, said: “The Conservative Group absolutely supports the flying of the Pride flag across the district and we are proud that we live in a country where people are free to be who they want to be and choose who they love.”

Nazam did not respond to a request for comment.

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