A newly appointed Tory mayor has used his first interview to insist that LGBT+ people are only worthy of respect if they don’t have gay sex.
Rabbi Alan Plancey, the Conservative councillor for Borehamwood Brookmeadow who was elected Mayor of Hertsmere on Wednesday (18 November), was already facing calls for his resignation before he was even appointed over his “homophobic views”.
Plancey has been criticised for resurfaced 2014 Jewish News video in which he insisted LGBT+ community needs to be “quiet” and “unobtrusive” if they want to be accepted, and that queer people can only be respected if they don’t have gay sex.
In the video, he said: “We cannot change that which is written in the Torah… Because of whims and fancies we can’t just decide we’ll take one bit out, one not out.
“If something is fashionable today and it wasn’t fashionable 1,000 years ago, does it make it a permitted action?”
Apparently answering his own question, he continued: “Homosexuality, lesbian, etc, is not permitted in Jewish law.
“From the very, very beginning God said, even to the animals: ‘Be fruitful and multiply. Male and female he created them.’ He didn’t say he created male to male, female to female.
“I think the demonstrations that are coming out today for acceptance of minority rule is completely wrong. You get more acceptance and more love if you do it quietly and unobtrusively, you’ll be accepted more in society.
“Why are we trying to drop the boundaries? Why are we trying to change the religion? Don’t come in with your attitude.”
He explained that if a gay person or a lesbian asked him to respect them, he would say: “Yes, I will respect you, provided that you don’t insist that I accept your actions as permitted.”
When it became clear that the Tory Orthodox rabbi would be appointed mayor, a group of Hertsmere Labour borough councillors – including Chris Myers and Christian Gray – sent him a letter asking him to step down.
They wrote: “Imagine for a moment replacing ‘LGBTQ+’ with any other group with protected characteristics under the Equality Act. Ask yourself how acceptable it would be to suggest that just they ‘be quiet’ so they are accepted?
“Additionally, you suggest that being LGBTQ+ is a lifestyle choice, which again is wholly inaccurate. This fact is accepted by many religious leaders including growing numbers of Orthodox rabbis.
“We fully accept your right to express your own religious views. We actively fight to ensure that people of all faiths can freely express their beliefs.
“However, your interview goes much further. It does not walk the fine line. It crosses it and explicitly enters the territory of homophobic statements.”
But Plancey, who in 2011 hit out marriage equality and insisted it was “a shame that the standards of morality seem to be dropping all the time”, refused to step down.
In his first interview as mayor, the Tory councillor chose not to use the opportunity to reassure the LGBT+ community.
Plancey insisted that in the 2014 video he was “quoting the Torah”, and declared: “Nobody can turn around to me and say I’m homophobic.”
But when asked if he would like to clarify his views on LGBT+ people, he said: “I don’t like demonstrations, I don’t like people coming out and putting up flags because they’re more important than anybody else, they’re not.”
The car crash interview continued, and he added: “I believe the views [in the resurfaced 2014 video], there was nothing in that video that was controversial.
“We are against the act, not the individual… I won’t put my views to them, and I don’t want them to put their views to me.
“It’s as simple as that. I don’t want them to come and tell me I’m not living a proper life or that my children should be gay or homosexual or something.”
Pushed to explain who had actually told him that his “children should be gay”, Plancey said: “Oh, you’d be surprised.”
The mayor said that he would not be willing to meet with LGBT+ councillors.