A Lewisham mayoral candidate has been widely criticised after claiming opposite sex marriages are natural and fundamental for a successful society and the safest environment for raising children.
Maureen Martin, 56, who represents the Christian Peoples Alliance, made the claims in a six-point plan leaflet which was distributed to Lewisham residents in advance of London’s local elections on 5 May.
Lewisham councillors and several LGBTQ+ groups across London have argued these claims are factually wrong and damaging.
In defence of her comments, Martin said: “The statement is based upon facts, peered reviewed studies that prove that children have better outcomes when they are reared by their natural parents.
“In a country where freedom of speech is still a right of every individual I have in this instance exercised this right.
“My statement was in no way hateful or can in no reasonable way be described as hate speech.”
Communications officer Cleo Madeleine from Gendered Intelligence, a trans-led and trans-involving charity organisation, said: “There’s absolutely no evidence about impaired performance in non-conventional households, there never has been.
“If there is a grain of truth to what she is saying, it’s because of people like in that organisation that prejudice gets perpetuated and people start to lose opportunities because of their sexuality and gender identity.
“But poorer outcomes are not created because you grow up in a queer or unconventional household and that somehow hurts your opportunities – there’s a lack of access to opportunities because of discrimination.
“I do think we should however try not to despair in Lewisham – this is still a very radical perspective and it’s worth bearing in mind that the vast majority of the population do not share these views.”
Michelle Snow, from UK trans news outlet What The Trans!?, added: “Maureen Martin is stuck in the past and that is made obvious by the fact that she calls being decent ‘political correctness’ like it’s 2006.
“LGBT people in Lewisham deserve better than to have it implied they are a danger to children by a political candidate who seeks to represent them.”
Across social media, there was widespread criticism of Lewisham Council’s decision to allow the leaflet to be posted in the first place.
Lewisham Council stated: “The council does not have editorial control over the content.
“The candidates are responsible for the information in their statements, provided they comply with legal requirements. The views expressed are their own.”
On Twitter, however, London actor Lee Knight, 38, whose partner grew up in Lewisham responded: “This is how Lewisham Council responds when one of their candidates puts anti LGBTQ+ speech on their leaflets.
“This horrid reply normalises hate when the very thing we should ALL be fighting for is equality. This response is shameful and people should get really angry about it.”
Elections for the Mayor of Lewisham and 54 ward councillors will be held on Thursday 5 May.
The current Mayor of Lewisham, Labour’s Damien Egan, said: “With all that’s happening in our society I don’t understand why a candidate for Mayor of Lewisham is prioritising policies that aren’t just discriminatory but also factually wrong.
“I hope this encourages people to make sure they cast their vote on 5th May and remember that we can’t take the rights that have been won by LGBT+ people for granted.”
Sidney Cordle, the leader of the Christian Peoples Alliance, defended Martin by claiming she was simply reporting ‘the facts’ and did not discriminate against anyone.
He said: “I find this attack on Christian values totally unacceptable.
“I note no research has been provided to disprove what Maureen has said because there isn’t any that hasn’t been totally debunked.
“There is overwhelming evidence that children with their natural mother and a father are living in a safer environment.”