A Warwickshire politician has been called out over a Facebook post in which he refers to queer people as those "who choose swim in unnatural waters"

A Warwickshire politician has been called out over a Facebook post in which he refers to queer people as those “who chose fish in unnatural waters”

The Chair of Claverdon Parish Council, in Warwickshire Cllr has been called out by Warwickshire Pride after an alleged Facebook post in which he said that queer is a word for people “who fish in unnatural waters”.

The comment was made after Lawton asked the question, “On the LGBT thing, there is a Q on the end now. What does it stand for?”

In a reply, the elected official wrote, “I am losing the plot here. I thought queer was an offensive term for those who chose to fish in unnatural waters”.

The word “queer” is used advisedly within the LGBT+ community as many, particularly gay and bi men find the term deeply offensive.

Warwickshire Pride released a statement condemning the councillor saying,

“Cllr Lawton’s comments are very disappointing, particularly as he is a public figure and an elected representative of the community. Homophobic comments such as his are incredibly damaging and show how far there is to go until all LGBT+ people can live openly and freely as who they are, without having to put up with hate speech and discrimination.

“We work year-round with LGBT+ people, supporting and empowering them to be who they are. We also deliver LGBT+ awareness training to organisations and people who are not LGBT+ because anti-LGBT+ views and behaviours are still prevalent. As Cllr Lawton’s comment shows, there are still people who think that being LGBT+ is unnatural.

“We would welcome an opportunity to engage with Cllr Lawton to explain in person why his comments are deeply offensive and hopefully enlighten him. In the meantime, Cllr Lawton should be utterly ashamed of the language he has used. It is not becoming of someone in his position. We hope to see a meaningful apology from him and a commitment to becoming more LGBT+ aware.

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“We will be raising a complaint with Claverdon Parish Council and also reporting his comment to Warwickshire’s Hate Crime Partnership as a hate incident.

“Hate is never acceptable and in this case, we hope to engage and educate.”

The post was published on Lawton’s personal Facebook page and not in an official capacity – which was spotted by a local resident, Jon Abbott according to The Leamington Spa Courier.

“I now completely understand how my comment has quite rightly been met with such disgust and anger”

The councillor did issue a full apology to Mr Abbott saying, “An apology. I am of course deeply sorry that you, our mutual friends and acquaintances and others have, quite rightly, been so offended by my crass and completely thoughtless comment on my facebook page last Sunday evening.

“I have taken some time to consider how best to apologise to you personally and more widely in open forum and have been fortunate to be offered advice from mutual friends in this respect. It was never my intention to cause offence but I now, completely and fully, understand how my comment has quite rightly been met with such disgust and anger.

“I will not in any way attempt to justify the wording used as I realise that there is no justification whatsoever for the comment made which has, quite naturally, caused you and many others to demonstrate considerable outrage. I have now realised and fully accept that what I thought was an innocuous quote, was the most stupid of actions. This cannot be undone and I will have to live with the shame of this lifelong slur of my having an association with a negative attitude to the LBGTQ community which will hurt as, in my heart, I hold no such feelings.

“I do not really know how much more I can do to atone for my deplorable and unthinking behaviour but hope that you and others that I have offended will accept this apology in the sincerity that it is given and rest assured that it is a personal lesson learnt in how I should conduct my behaviour going forward. Best regards. Simon D H Lawton”.