Controversial Charedi activist Shraga Stern was spotted in Parliament with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today.
Several photographs emerged on social media showing Stern with three figures resembling Corbyn, his wife Laura Alvarez and shadow international development secretary Dan Carden.
Stern told Jewish News: “We just had a general discussion. It wasn’t a planned meeting. It was a general chat.
“After Prime Minister’s Questions, I just went and had a chat with him. It wasn’t a planned chat, no,” he added. “I was in the area and I sat next to him and had a chat while he was eating a meal.”
Labour councillor Joshua Garfield criticised the meeting, writing on Twitter: “This is the Jewish activist Corbyn chose to meet today, an extremist who believes inclusive [relationship sexual education] is against his ‘human rights.’
“Not a representative body of the mainstream Jewish community, nor progressive Jews w/ liberal values (the majority of UK Jews).”
Labour MP Margaret Hodge shared a photo of the meeting, writing: “Having lunch & wondering why Corbyn wants to be seen talking to an anti-LGBT activist who doesn’t represent the mainstream Jewish community yet chooses to sideline groups like @JewishLabour.”
Having lunch & wondering why Corbyn wants to be seen talking to an anti-LGBT activist who doesn't represent the mainstream Jewish community yet chooses to sideline groups like @JewishLabour… pic.twitter.com/2xsFgUSgHY
— Margaret Hodge (@margarethodge) July 17, 2019
Ella Rose, Jewish Labour Movement equalities officer, said: “Jeremy Corbyn appears intent on meeting those with views incompatible with the progressive politics he claims to champion.
“Stern has been a veteran campaigner against children being taught that LGBT people exist. His views do not represent the Labour Party and should have no place within it.”
Stern found himself at the centre of controversy earlier this year after his lawyers wrote to the Department for Education alleging requirements to teach children about different genders and sexualities violated his human rights.
More recently, Stern branded rabbi Avraham Pinter a “kapo” in an email sent to hundreds of Charedi residents about education.
“Through meeting Stern Corbyn is managing to alienate himself even further from all sections of the Jewish community.”
Responding to criticism, Stern said: “I have campaigned for religious freedom that any sex education should be taught by parents and not in classrooms and have never specifically campaigned against LGBT and am not a homophobe.”
A Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party has long supported and campaigned for LGBT+ inclusive education in schools, and the achievement of cross party support for legislation this year was a significant step forward in the struggle for LGBT+ equality.”
Dan Carden’s office have been approached for comment.
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