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COUNCILLOR CLEARED

Wiltshire Councillor Mary Douglas cleared after LGBTQ+ comments.


A COUNCILLOR under investigation over her comments about the LGBTQ+ community has been cleared of breaking the council's code of conduct.


Heard during an area board meeting last year Councillor Mary Douglas, who represents Salisbury St Francis and Stratford on Wiltshire Council, described members of the LGBTQ+ community as "misguided by a powerful ideology", during a discussion concerning a grant for Salisbury Pride.


Despite deeming the councillor's actions as "unwise and unhelpful" Wiltshire Council has now confirmed that Cllr Douglas has not breached any code of conduct.


A Wiltshire Council spokesperson said: The hearing sub-committee considered all relevant matters in respect of both complaints under the council’s code of conduct.


"It determined that whilst Cllr Douglas’ actions were unwise and unhelpful, they did not amount to a breach of the code due to the high level of protection afforded to councillors in respect of their right to freedom of expression within political debate."


Cllr Douglas said she was "relieved and thankful for this outcome", adding: "The consequences of not coming to this conclusion would have been untenable and deeply concerning for freedom of speech and expression for elected officials.


“If the council had found against me, it would have set a precedent that I and other public officials are not allowed to disagree with groups of people, events or political messages with which we disagree.


“Such a verdict would effectively end conversation, debate and the ability to express a belief and opinion."


Following the meeting in November last year, Cllr Douglas was stripped of her front-bench role as Wiltshire Council's portfolio holder for social mobility and skills, but remained on the council.


Back in June the councillor announced she will be standing down at the next election.


Following the latest news Cllr Douglas added: “I said what I did, not because I don’t love people who identify as LGBT, but because I do.


“I made the statement because I didn’t just want to reject the grant application, I wanted people to understand why. I do not agree with the political message of gay pride, and should have the right to say so.


“To disagree is not to disrespect. In fact, to take the trouble to express disagreement with someone is a mark of respect. Across UK society, we must be able to disagree with each other while also holding each other in the highest esteem.


“To be able to say what we think and believe is vital for democracy, community cohesion and good decision making.”


Read the original post here >> https://www.salisburyprideuk.org/post/grant-not-supported-wiltshire-councillor

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