A UKIP candidate who ran for the Oxford City Council in yesterday’s elections has come under fire for making allegedly homophobic comments and for linking the Koran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.
Dr Julia Gasper, who has a DPhil from the University of Oxford in English Literature, stated that she has received “death threats” and demands for her to be “gassed”, “pushed off a cliff”, and “electrocuted” in response to her views.
Gasper wrote on her blog, “We ought to reflect that there is a strong connection between male homosexuality and paedophilia. Why hush it up?” In the same post, entitled ‘Why I think Gay Rights have gone too far’, Gasper alleges that homosexuals, “rather than claiming equality, are in many respects now claiming privilege and special treatment.”
Gasper also called for homosexuals to express “gratitude”, as “homosexuals are completely dependent on heterosexuals to create them”. She also stated that homosexuality was a “choice”. In an email sent earlier this year to Colin Cortbus, a former UKIP activist, she reiterated her belief in a supposed link between paedophilia and homosexuality, claiming that “although gay men are only about 3% of the population, they are about 50% of the paedophiles”.
When approached by Cherwell for comment, Dr Gasper denied the accusations of homophobia levelled against her, stating, “This is a malicious witch hunt, people enjoy stirring this up. I have always been tolerant, but I have been demonised by malicious people.”
Gasper also labelled her views “very, very middle ground”, and stated that she “[had] never said anything homophobic.”
She was also criticised by Cortbus for her “shocking” views regarding Islam. In an email to Cortbus earlier this year Gasper said, “Why is it any more wrong to assert that the Koran is a fascist book than to assert that Mein Kampf is a fascist book?
“The Koran is a lot more explicit in advocating hate and murder than Mein Kampf is.”
Reacting to the claim that she was mistaking the majority for a minority with regards to Islam, Gasper stated, “I am not going to be fobbed off with the myth about ‘a small number of extremists’. The fact is that Islam itself is a severely oppressive ideology.”
Gasper told Cherwell that comments which she has been criticised as having made came from a series of private emails. She stated, “The fact is that I have not made any public statement at any time about the Koran nor have I ever attacked Muslims.
“I have many Muslim friends and work with them on a daily basis. I am entitled to my private opinions about any book.”
Cortbus forwarded a number of private emails between himself and Gasper to Cherwell, stating that it was his “moral duty” to expose the would-be councillor’s “truly shocking” statements.
Cortbus called current accusations over Gasper’s alleged xenophobia “the tip of the iceberg”. He said that comments made by Gasper about the Koran were “shocking beyond any Islam-related far right sentiment [he had] ever heard, even from the BNP.”
He said, “UKIP was founded by people like Alan Sked to advocate liberal euro-scepticism, but has long-since embraced the hurtful politics of shouting loudest.” In an interview with Cherwell, Cortbus also called the invitation of Barry Malender, an MEP for the Dutch political party PVV, to the 2011 Eastbourne Party conference ‘a saddening and omnious signal to party activists’.
While stating that Gasper had a “right to voice [her views]”, UKIP stated that her views did not reflect party policy, adding, “Dr Gasper’s comments on this subject are her own and her own alone.”
The LGBT community at Oxford expressed their concern at Gasper’s comments about homosexuality. Sam Weinberg, President of Oxford University’s LGBTQ Society, commented, “I think most people recognise how far-fetched her positions on homosexuality are. I would be very surprised if she does at all well in the campaign.
“Still, I do believe this kind of rhetoric ought to be considered a serious problem. It is the job of the Oxford community, and the LGBTQ community in particular, to counter her positions.”
New College LGBT rep Henry Ashwell commented, “Her views on homosexuality are more worrying than offensive. That someone, who genuinely thinks that, as a supposed by-product of a heterosexual society, homosexuals should somehow show ‘gratitude’ for their existence, could think themselves a suitable candidate to represent all members of the Quarry and Risinghurst community should be a sobering thought for us all.
“The trouble is, Ms Gasper has absolutely no grasp of the wider picture beyond her own convictions. Her definition of ‘homosexuals’ as those who ‘simply choose a same-sex partner’, is, likewise, entirely bound up in her own bigotry. She provides absolutely no evidence for this – because she can’t.
“If Ms Gasper truly believes every word of her blog, then she should have the decency to stand aside for someone who has the tolerance, experience and selflessness that the community needs.”
Jim Everett, the Corpus LGBTQ rep, said, “I think it’s very unfortunate [that] an obviously very intelligent person has let their prejudice cloud their judgement so much. The council should not have a place for such intolerant, offensive and outdated views.”
Dr Gasper came last in the Quarry and Risinghurst ward with 69 votes out of a total of 1,714 votes cast. Labour candidate Laurence Baxter won with 848 votes, retaining the seat. The Liberal Democrats came second in the ward with 411 votes, followed by the Conservatives with 310 votes and the Green Party with 76.
She was elected as Parish Councillor for Risinghurt and Sandhills.