DCSIMG

Councillor expresses regret in ‘women and gays’ row

Donna Edmunds

Donna Edmunds

A local councillor sparked a furious row this week when she claimed businesses should be allowed to turn away women and gay people.

UKIP’s Donna Edmunds posted the comments on an internet forum, but later said she regretted making the remarks.

The Lewes district councillor, who is also an MEP candidate, had been asked whether she supported the views of Henley-on-Thames UKIP councillor David Silvester who said the floods this winter had been caused by the Government’s support for gay marriage, according to The Argus.

The mother of one claimed she did not agree with her party colleague but said business owners should be allowed to refuse service to anyone they wanted to for any reason.

She said: “I believe that all business owners, Christian, Muslim, gay, straight, should be allowed to withhold their services from whomever they choose whenever they choose.

“It’s their business. Why should they be forced to serve or sell to anyone?”

Cllr Edmunds defended her comments as “an essentially libertarian stance”. Her remarks drew criticism on the Lewes Forum at www.lewes.co.uk, with one commenter calling her views “thoughtless, ugly and discriminatory”.

Cllr Edmunds, 32, who represents Barcombe and Hamsey, later said: “I regret what I wrote and can see how an essentially libertarian stance could be broadly misinterpreted.

“I in no way endorse any form of discrimination. I believe in cutting red tape for business and I also strongly believe in an individual’s personal and religious freedoms, but I stand against any form of prejudice.

“I hope this remark has not caused any embarrassment for the party.”

Lewes District Council distanced itself from the controversy in a statement on Wednesday, A spokesperson said: “Councillor Edmunds’ views are her personal opinion and are not shared by the district council.

“Lewes District Council has a statutory duty under The Equality Act 2010 to protect people from discrimination. We believe that everyone who lives and works in the area, and those who come to visit us, should feel welcome, safe, valued, included and respected. All officers and councillors receive regular training opportunities and there is no excuse for them not to be aware of their duties as council employees and elected members.”

 

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