A lecturer in mental health at King’s College London has reacted to the removal of a picture on campus of a former Archbishop of Canterbury by referring to LGBT+ students as the “Gaystapo”.
This wordplay, likening the campaigners to the Nazi secret police force, the Gestapo, has been widely condemned. The Nazis were responsible not only for killing 11 million people, but also for torturing and murdering tens of thousands of LGBT people in concentration camps.
Reacting to the university’s decision to remove the picture from its display, the lecturer, Dr Niall McCrae, co-wrote an article with Reverend Jules Gomes on the site Conservative Women, in which he compared LGBT+ campaigners to Nazis and called them “sanctimonious petty Napoleons”.
The picture in question formed part of the ‘wall of fame’, a series of pictures of notable alumni of the university, which included a display at the Strand campus featuring Lord Carey of Clifton, a former Archbishop of Canterbury. Lord Carey is known for his opposition to same-sex marriage, and for his endorsement of conversion therapy, a supposed ‘gay cure’ which aims to convert LGBT+ people to heterosexuality.
In the article, McCrae writes: “Carey is not homophobic, but his name has been tarnished by a ‘Gaystapo’ that refuses to acknowledge that a clergyman cares for all, while maintaining a traditional view of marriage.”
President of the Students’ Union at King’s College London, Ben Hunt, has led the campaign for the removal of Lord Carey’s picture for several years, and pledged to remove the portrait in his manifesto when running for LGBT+ Officer, calling Carey’s views “outdated, hurtful and offensive”.
Mr Hunt said in a statement: “When I was LGBT+ Officer I carried on a campaign that had been running at King’s for several years to make the window representation at Strand more representative of the King’s community.
“LGBT+ students over several years had been concerned with the portrayal of Lord Carey of Clifton as an alumni who should be celebrated due to his views expressed during the debate regarding gay marriage.
“A petition was signed asking for his removal by hundreds of students several years ago, as well as policy being passed through our democratic system endorsing the Union to take this stance.
“Motivated in part by this campaign, but also by a desire to ensure that the diversity of students and alumni at Kings was represented, I worked with the University on the digital display content which currently shows images about the past achievements of King’s, our present student and staff community and what mark King’s wishes to make in the future, in service of society.”
He adds: “To employ language like ‘gaystapo’ which has very negative connotations for LGBT+ groups, as well as for people of colour and the Jewish community, is hurtful and harmful and creates a tone of division which this project does not represent.
“The intention was never to create a climate of division in the King’s community, instead, to emphasise all of our strengths in accepting and supporting each other.”
ROAR, the King’s College London Students’ Union newspaper, ran with the headline: ‘Archbishop removed from wall five years after success of LGBT campaign’. However, King’s College London have denied claims that they removed the picture in light of this campaign, instead telling Buzzfeed News that the picture was to be replaced by a new digital display reflecting “research breakthroughs”, “student and staff successes”, and “our renowned alumni”, and not in response to accusations of homophobia.
In a statement, a King’s College London spokesperson said: “It was agreed that the current static displays, which are costly to maintain, or change, did not capture the diversity of our university community and that this should change”, adding that other portraits had been removed at the same time.
The Mancunion has approached King’s College London for further comment.