News just in, tell friends and family: “bum boys” is only homophobic “depending on the context”, according to a Tory campaigner.

In a new instalment of Election Blind Dates, by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme, Nimco Ali – an anti-FGM activist campaigning for the Tories – meets Owen Jones, a left-wing journalist, who wants a Labour win on 12 December.

The pair clash over several topics, including Brexit, taxes and trickle-down economics.

But it’s the moment when Jones – who is gay – quizzes his “date” on the PM’s controversial remarks about gay men that’s sparked some consternation online.

Jones asks Ali:

What do you think about Boris Johnson calling gay people ‘tank top bum boys?’

At first she bats away the question, saying she can’t “speak for him”.

“Do you accept it’s homophobic?” Jones presses several times, to no answer.

Eventually, Ali admits she thinks it’s “unacceptable” and says she’d step in if she heard someone being addressed that way, yet the activist refuses to deem the phrase homophobic.

Instead she says it “depends on the context [in which] it’s being said”.

What if the context is, say, a 1998 column on the resignation of a top minister, printed in a national newspaper?

Ali’s hesitance to comdemn Johnson's comments has attracted criticism from the top down – including that of Tory peer Baroness Sayeed Warsi.

“For the record, 'bum boy' is a crass homophobic phrase – there is no context in which a political leader should think such a statement is appropriate or acceptable,” Warsi tweeted.

“We must be united in calling out all forms of bigotry”.

However, Ali later tweeted a defence of the incident, saying that Labour supporter Stormzy had previously used homophobic language (which the rapper has apologised for), which was overlooked because he "loves Jeremy Corbyn".

It should be noted that Stormzy is not the prime minister.

Ali joins Johnson himself in refusing to acknowledge the effect his language has on marginalised groups.

In a BBC Question Time Leaders’ Special in November, the PM refused again to apologise for his “bum boys” remark, alongside other racist, sexist and Islamophobic comments he’d made during his career as both a journalist and a politician.

Instead he said his intention wasn’t to “cause hurt or pain to anybody”.

What’s that saying about good intentions and the road to hell…?

Keep reading...Show less
Please log in or register to upvote this article
The Conversation (0)