Parish council denies homophobia after rejecting seats for two people with LGBTQ+ links

Pride flag

A parish council has denied accusations of being homophobic after two potential councillors with LGBTQ+ links were rejected for seats. 

Ande Savage, 56, and Glynn Smith, 65, were two of four people who applied to fill five vacant seats on Blaby Parish Council, in Leicestershire. 

Both candidates, who claim they have not been informed why they were unsuccessful, told Leicestershire Live they felt rejected after an interview process they described as “rude” and “aggressive”. 

They included details of their links to the LGBTQ+ community in their applications, with Smith mentioning his 12-year marriage to husband Nick, and Savage detailing his volunteer work with Foxes Pride – a group of Leicester City football fans made up of LGBTQ+ members and allies.

‘It was all about LGBT’

Smith said of the interview process: “[There were] questions about what do you want to do that’s gay in the village. I said, ‘Well, a flag would be OK in Pride month’. That was it.

“It was just question after question without waiting for my reply. It was quite aggressive and rude. I’ve had people speak to me like that before, but not since the ’80s. It was all about LGBT.

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“There were four volunteers and five seats available. I feel there’s no valid reason for them to reject us. We weren’t criminals or bankrupt. The only thing I felt it might be was because I mentioned my sexuality. I’m sure they’ll deny it.” 

Meanwhile, Savage said he felt one councillor had made up their mind before the interview stage even began. “I thought it was very rude,” he added.

“I feel there’s no valid reason for them to reject us. We’re not mass murderers, we’re not bankrupt. We don’t satisfy any of the reasons for them to reject us. Questions need to be asked.”

Blaby Parish Council’s website states that it’s not obliged to fill vacancies, and council manager Vicki Jepson strongly denied claims that the duo were rejected due to links to the queer community. 

“Conversations with all candidates were held with the usual professional decorum conducive to Blaby Parish Council standards,” she said, going on to claim that Mr Smith “appeared happy and relaxed” during the interview.

She denied anyone had made up their mind before the interview, saying the council will “in all circumstances conduct dialogue with members of the public with professional decorum”.

‘We are most definitely not homophobic’

A statement from the council read: “Blaby Parish Council is saddened to hear of Mr Smith’s and Mr Savage’s conclusion as we welcome parishioners from all walks of life and indeed welcome diversity. We are most definitely not homophobic.

“Becoming a councillor is all about giving back to your community. It is to serve the community. It is vital that the councillor is a team player, flexible, adaptable and committed.

“A councillor should not have a personal agenda in mind. We reiterate, as with any application, the person needs to fit the criteria to fill the vacancy.”

PinkNews has contacted Blaby Parish Council for comment.