Oxford City Council cancelled a talk by self-proclaimed ‘rebel priest’ Jules Gomes, which was due to take place in the Town Hall on 13th June, on the grounds that it breached their diversity policy.
The Council stepped in after outrage was sparked at the subject of the free talk, entitled ‘Feminism was women’s greatest enemy – until transgenderism came along’.
Oxford Men’s Group, who was hosted the lecture, has since accused the council of “discriminating against Christians” after its venue was pulled.
The Council denied knowledge of the lecture’s subject, and announced that it was now reviewing its booking policy.
Ian Brooke, the Council’s head of community services, said “we would like to apologise to Oxford’s LGTQIA+ community for the destress this has caused”.
He added, “we support Oxford Pride festival and the LGBT+ Oxfordshire website, and this lecture does not accord with our core commitment to valuing diversity.”
The Council also said it objected to headlines on Gomes’ website which included “State bans freedom of assembly so LGBT activists can poison our kids” and “How US elites made gay marriage a pillar of establishment orthodoxy”.
Meanwhile an article on the Rebel Priest website complained that the Oxford City Council was “preferring to heed those who take offence and get upset over those who bring reasoned arguments aimed at truth is about as close to an outright denial of the principle of free speech as you can get.”
It added “no platforming conservatives is the stuff of student politics – but in this alphabet snowflake world it has moved at frightening speed into what used to be grown-up society”.
The Rebel Priest also lamented that “Dr Gomes is just the latest victim of the authoritarian intolerance of modern left-wing progressives who cannot abide dissent”
The Council defended itself against accusations of no-platforming by arguing that “while we support the principle of free speech this does not give anyone the right to use Oxford City Council as a platform for discriminatory speech”
A former vicar in the Isle of Man, he was banned from the Church of England ministry in 2016 after a disciplinary tribunal found he is ‘prone to losing his temper and displaying anger’, according to the Christian Today website.
Responses on twitter were mixed. While some decried what they saw as an attack on free speech, many of them thanking the Council for their decision. @LucyWarin tweeted: “Good decision. Thanks for your speedy and considered response.”