Homophobic hate crime in Hackney has soared by 50 per cent in the past three years – news described as “sickening” by one local politician.
Perhaps, then, it should come as little surprise that a Conservative councillor who directed homophobic taunts at the borough’s mayor has not faced more severe punishment.
Cllr Aron Klein sent the line ‘It’s Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve’ as the heading of an email that contained his defence for previous comments describing LGBT+ education as “confusing” for children.
As a councillor and Conservative Party member, Klein will be in breach of two separate codes of conduct, and yet he currently remains in both roles.
The Tories have confirmed he is under investigation, but he has not been suspended pending the outcome, as often happens in such cases.
Klein’s use of his Jewish faith as an excuse also falls flat when LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall has been at pains to stress that it meets with people of all religions who are not homophobic. Faith is not an excuse.
The handling of Klein’s case suggests the matter is not being taken seriously by his party, which has issued curt, single-sentence responses to questions on its investigation. It remains to be seen what conclusion it will reach, or when that will even arrive.
But if those in public office, whether that is the national government or a local council, are not held to the highest standards, how can we expect hate crime to fall?