Former Oxonian and Oxford MEP candidate Julia Gasper has infuriated members of the University with her comments that there are “far too many homosexuals in Parliament”.
Gasper, who is an MEP candidate for South East England, also stated that networking application Grindr should be banned, having previously called the gay rights movement a “lunatic’s charter”.
Dr Gasper, who studied for a D.Phil in English Literature at Somerville College, had previously been a UKIP chair in Oxford, and stood down in January 2013.
The comments, which appeared on her blog ‘Newsflash from UK’ in April, were made in reference to allegations that Grindr was used during the 2011 Tory Party Conference to advertise a sex party. She also claimed that, “There are far too many homosexuals in Parliament. Even the Speaker of the House of Commons, Nigel Evans is under investigation for sexually harassing other men.
“They are only 1.5% of the population, a proportion that justifies about ten MPs in total, yet there seem to be hundreds of them, all in important positions and giving each other favours. That is a violation of democracy”. She continued, “I call for the banning of Grindr and similar networks that damage public health.”
OUSU’s LGBTQ rep Dan Templeton voiced the disappointment of University members, stating that it is “unfortunate that candidates such as Julia Gasper feel as though homophobic comments will help their election campaigns, especially in the light of previous comments made by political figures in Oxfordshire.
“Incidents such as this remind us that though we can celebrate the advances of the LGBTQ community, there are still those that hold alarming prejudices and wish to actively discriminate against LGBTQ people.”
As well as describing her statistics on the percentage of gay people as “absurd”, Templeton responded to her previous comments that LGBT History Month organisers exaggerated the level of persecution of gay people in the Holocaust, and that gay people need to “stop complaining about persecution” and start expressing “gratitude to straight people, on whom they are reliant to be born”. He told Cherwell, “Perhaps she should instead focus her efforts on helping a demographic that were murdered during the Holocaust, and which continues to face prejudice in the modern day, and also on improving the representation of all sections of society in Parliament”.
Jesus College Equal Opportunities rep Douglas Cameron-Hobbs, however, remained cautious about giving Gasper’s comments publicity. He said, “A balance needs to be struck; whilst we need to expose such abhorrent bigotry for what it is, we must also be careful to prevent people like Dr Gasper from using the media as a forum to air their despicable views.”
Meanwhile, seperate comments made on Dr Gasper’s blog with regards to Amnesty International have attracted criticism from their supporters within the University. Last month, she accused the charity of having been “hijacked […] by dubious people with a range of increasingly dubious agendas”.
She launched an impassioned attack on the charity’s support of reproductive rights (including abortion), and their decision to oppose the criminalization of sex work. She stated online that, “Instead of campaigning for victims of political tyranny, it started to follow trendier causes of the permissive era”.
Addressing the charity’s stance on prostitution, she claimed, “Amnesty has now gone so far downhill it is hardly recognizable. It has published a new policy document calling for the legalization of prostitution world-wide. It is calling prostitution ‘Human Rights’. In this document, we find a gruesome hotch-potch of left-wing euphemism and ethical deformity”.
She also alleged, “Equal right of access to prostitution is now proclaimed to be a Human Right! Yes the old, the ugly, the poor and the disabled must according to the new Amnesty, get their rightful entitlement to some ‘sex services’ from ‘sex workers’ to enhance their ‘quality of life.’ The grossness of this is beyond belief”.
A spokesperson for Oxford Univresity Amnesty International told Cherwell, “We fully support Amnesty International’s protection of reproductive rights and the rights of sex workers.
“Amnesty is primarily focused on the protection of human rights, of which both reproductive rights and the rights of sex workers are key. This is relevant to the decriminalisation of prostitution as this helps to reduce the persecution of and violence towards sex workers themselves”.
Gasper, declaring that she “didn’t want anything to do with the Cherwell newspaper”, refused to comment on her various claims.