MP quits committee over homophobic remarks

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Labour MP Jared O’Mara has quit the Commons equality committee over online homophobic comments he made before being elected to parliament.

Mr O’Mara also made misogynistic remarks, joked about having an orgy with members of Girls Aloud and posted degrading comments about fat people.

The Sheffield Hallam MP, 36, was elected in June, unseating ex-deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.

Mr O’Mara resigned from the Women and Equalities Committee after apologising.

In posts made on the Drowned in Sound music website in 2004, Mr O’Mara claimed singer Michelle McManus only won Pop Idol “because she was fat” and said it would be funny if jazz star Jamie Cullum was “sodomised with his own piano”.

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‘Horrendous and vile’

The posts were first reported by the Guido Fawkes website, which has since revealed that two years earlier Mr O’Mara made homophobic remarks on an internet forum.

The MP has also apologised for these comments and said he was “deeply ashamed” of his actions.

The Labour leadership described Mr O’Mara’s online remarks as “horrendous” and “vile” but sources said he would not be suspended from the parliamentary party, BBC political correspondent Chris Mason reported.

Mr Mason said he understood Mr O’Mara addressed his colleagues at a meeting of Labour MPs and made “a full and very personal apology” for his remarks.

The @LGBTLabour group tweeted that it was “deeply concerned” by the MP’s comments.

Lib Dem peer Lord Scriven, former leader of Sheffield Council, said: “It seems like a nasty pattern of sexist language and misogyny is developing from the Labour MP for Sheffield Hallam.

“He clearly isn’t fit to sit on the Women and Equalities Committee. He must stand down from that committee immediately and if he doesn’t, Jeremy Corbyn must take action to remove him.”

Stella Creasy, Labour MP for Walthamstow, added she had asked for a meeting with Mr O’Mara to discuss his comments.

‘Change their views’

However Wes Streeting, Labour MP for Ilford North, who was at the meeting earlier, said: “He offered what seemed to be a heartfelt and genuine apology and admitted that these are views he once held, which took guts.

“The battle for equality is a battle for hearts and minds and that must surely mean that people are allowed to change their views and therefore must also be offered a second chance.

“I hope I don’t end up eating my words and that he demonstrates his commitment to equality as a new MP. I think we owe him that chance.”

Image copyright PA
Image caption Girls Aloud were the subject of one of Mr O’Mara’s online comments

In a statement, Mr O’Mara said he had been “wrong to make” the comments.

“I understand why they are offensive and deeply apologise for my use of such unacceptable language.”

“I made the comments as a young man, at a particularly difficult time in my life, but that is no excuse.”

Before his resignation from the committee, LGBT Labour said: “Whilst we recognise that these comments were made some time ago, that doesn’t excuse such ignorance and bigotry.

“We expect a full and public apology from Mr O’Mara and ask that he meets with members of the LGBT Labour committee in order to understand the inequality many LGBT people face.”

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