Keir Starmer was ‘beaten up’ defending gay friend from attack as a teen

Labour leader Keir Starmer was beaten up as a teenager while trying to defend a gay friend, according to a new biography.

Keir Starmer: The Biography, written by Tom Baldwin, details how during the summer of 1980, after Starmer sat his A-levels, he worked at a holiday centre for a disability charity in Cornwall alongside two school pals called Mark and Graham. 

The book states that one night, the trio went out to a nightclub and Graham, who “didn’t do much to conceal that he was gay”, was attacked by local youths who “decided the way to prove they weren’t gay too was by punching and kicking him”. 

“Mark and I got involved, so all three of us ended up getting beaten up,” Starmer recalls in the book. 

Starmer has since lost contact with Graham but recounted the unfair treatment his friend faced, which included his own father kicking him out of the family home and telling him “you’re no son of mine”. 

“When I’m told how ‘things were better in the old days’, people forget about the ways Britain has become less cruel and less full of hate”, Starmer states in the book. “We can all take some pride in that.”

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Another homophobic incident detailed in the biography centres on the Labour leader’s niece, Jess, who married her wife, Samantha, in 2022. 

Keir Starmer speaking at an event.
Keir Starmer speaking at an event. (Getty)

Just six weeks after the joyous occasion, Starmer says he was reminded “how far we have to go” after Jess became the victim of a homophobic attack.

Jess and Samantha were leaving a pub in the town where they live, Starmer explained, and “they were hand in hand like the newlyweds they are when three men came up to them. 

“These cowards punched Jess many times, fracturing her cheekbone, for no reason except she’s a lesbian.”

Baldwin wrote how Starmer “tossed” his phone towards the author in “cold fury” to show him pictures of Jess before and after the attack, which the author suggested demonstrated his personal commitments to LGBTQ+ rights. 

“Starmer’s anger over what happened to his niece, and – despite his best efforts with the police – the failure to prosecute those responsible, is an emotion you rarely see from him in public,” Baldwin said.

“For my part, I think the argument made casually by a lot of people these days that he stands for nothing is well wide of the mark.”

Starmer has a complicated recent record on LGBTQ+ issues

Keir Starmer has come under fire from the LGBTQ+ community in recent times for appearing to U-turn on policies and commitments which directly impact queer folks, particularly trans people. 

Last year, he axed Labour’s commitment to self-ID for trans people, ordered Labour MPs to abstain on the Tories’ unprecedented use of a Section 35 order to block the SNP’s gender reform bill – a number of which ignored and voted against – and visited an anti-LGBTQ+ church

Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, pictured speaking at a podium at a Labour event. He is wearing a black suit with a white shirt and red tie and he is gesturing to his left.
Keir Starmer. (Getty)

Controversially, the Labour leader has been embroiled with back-and-forth spats with prime minister Rishi Sunak over what defines a woman. 

In April 2023, Starmer was accused of “throwing trans people under the bus” during an interview where he appeared to back outing trans pupils in schools. 

When asked about the sex organs that women “can have”, instead of shutting down this invasive line of questioning, Starmer said: “For 99.9 per cent of women, it is completely biological … and of course they haven’t got a penis.”

He continued: “There are still many battles that need to go ahead for women and I don’t think we should roll anything back. 

“I think we should go on to win the next battles for women. And that is a very important sort of starting point for this debate.”

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