I’ve had more than a hundred email messages from local residents asking me to oppose the Government’s plans for relationships and sex education in schools.

The regulations ensure that every child receives inclusive and age-appropriate relationships education, including on the full diversity of family life. Under the regulations, parents retain the option to withdraw their children from sex education—in my view, at considerable risk. Safeguarding children from abuse and harm, which more often than not takes place in the home is vital. Children are taught about what is and is not acceptable by trained professionals in a safe environment. In the context of child sexual exploitation up and down the country, we lose sight of that at our peril.

Much of the opposition that has found its way into my inbox has been motivated by religious objections. As a Christian, I understand theological debates about human sexuality. But when schools are talking about the importance of having ‘no outsiders’, and celebrating diversity and difference, who do you think they are talking about? It is not just the gay people, its the Muslims receiving the bulk of hatred against religious people, and the Christians who are still persecuted—in north Africa, across the middle east and sometimes in this country—and the Jewish people who are subjected to a rising tide of antisemitism. Those of us who are different know exactly what it feels like to be an outsider.

I warmly welcome the advice and encouragement of the Catholic Education Service, the Church of England and the Office of the Chief Rabbi. Religious leaders understand the kind of society we are and the kind of society we want to live in. They understand that the central tenet at the heart of so many faiths—in fact, all faiths—is to love your neighbour as yourself. Ultimately, those of us who believe in God believe we will face judgment from one, and it will not be us.

I want to say to LGBT young people in Ilford North – and up and down the country – that I and other people in Parliament have got your back, and we will fight for the kind of a world that genuinely values equality, freedom and human rights.

To my Muslim, Christian and Jewish constituents and friends who have written to me: I’ve got your back too. Anyone who is coming for you, your religious freedom and your place in the community will have to come through me first.

I just ask—for the sake of our country, the democracy we live in and the kind of society that we want to build—that you have my back too. That is the kind of society we need to build: one built on mutual respect, equality and solidarity.

I will be voting for the Government’s proposals.  I am very happy to meet with constituents to discuss this – including any public meetings planned on the topic.

You can view the full speech below:


Link to Instagram Link to Twitter Link to YouTube Link to Facebook Link to LinkedIn Link to Snapchat Close Fax Website Location Phone Email Calendar Building Search