Oxford UKIP chairwoman resigns

Oxford UKIP chairwoman resigns

31st January 2013 By Ally Leigh

UKIP_logoThe chairwoman of the Oxford branch of UK Independence Party has resigned, in response to a “press vendetta” against her.

Dr Julia Gasper has been the focus of national press attention, after allegedly homophobic comments she made on an online UKIP members’ forum came to light.

On the forum, she referred to gay rights as a “lunatic’s charter”. She also commented: “As for the links between homosexuality and paedophilia, there is so much evidence that even a full-length book could hardly do justice to the subject.”

Dr Gasper has caused controversy with her views in the past; in 2012, she became embroiled in a bitter exchange with Pink News, Europe’s largest gay news organisation, with the website deeming comments she had made to be homophobic.

Citing the arguments of Jean-Paul Sartre, Dr Gasper expressed the opinion that homosexuality is a choice, and that gay people should express “gratitude” to straight people, as “homosexuals are completely dependent on heterosexuals to create them”.

Dr Gasper, who studied for a DPhil in English at Somerville, has also courted controversy with other comments she has made. In an email to former UKIP supporter Colin Cortbus she equated Hitler’s autobiography with the Muslim holy book, the Koran, by saying that the latter “is a lot more explicit in advocating hate and murder than Mein Kampf is”.

Denying allegations that the party was homophobic, UKIP press officer Gawain Towler commented: “UKIP are strong supporters of Civil partnership, and believe that those in Civil partnerships should have every right that the more traditional partnerships hold

“We do however believe that tolerance works both ways and the current plans for SSM [same sex marriage] do not protect the liberties of those, such as faith groups of various stripes who oppose such unions.”

Explaining the appeal of UKIP to the student voter, he continued: “Whilst the pedagaogogical [sic] system has proclaimed its purity, real mobility has diminished. In brief millions of talented young people have been sacrificed on the altar of false equality.

“UKIP believe that our mix of policies, highlighting personal freedom and responsibility are appealing to the younger voter as well as the older,” he added.

David Browne, a UKIP supporter and first-year Law student, commented: “Unfortunately, the party is plagued by a faction that is recognisably homophobic, but I don’t believe it is representative of the party as a whole.

“UKIP needs to reform the image it presents to the gay community. The party claims to stand for equal rights across the board, but it simply cannot do so if open homophobes are given electoral platforms.”

Dr Gasper stood as UKIP’s candidate for Oxford East in the 2010 general election, winning 2.3 percent of the vote.

Whilst UKIP has never gained a seat in the House of Commons, they hold 12 of the 73 UK seats in the European Parliament, and have three members in the House of Lords.

Jess Pumphrey, LGBTQ rights campaigner, commented: “Public figures have a responsibility to act respectfully toward minority groups. Normalising prejudiced rhetoric is very harmful, and should not be acceptable.”

Dr Gasper was not available for comment.

UKIP have since confirmed that they have accepted her resignation.