The head of a left-wing Jewish network has apologised for comparing a new definition of anti-Semitism to a discriminatory law banning public authorities from promoting “the acceptability of homosexuality”.
Jenny Manson, chair of Jewish Voice for Labour (JVL), apologised for the “clumsy” comments at a Constituency Labour Party event on Wednesday evening, angering members of the LGBT community who were present.
JVL is among a small number of Jewish groups to have criticised the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism for its “chilling effect” on free speech with regards to Israel.
At the meeting, Manson compared the effects of the IHRA definition to the effects of Section 28, a notorious clause in the Local Government Act 1988 prohibiting schools and local authorities from teaching that LGBT relationships “as a pretended family relationship” are acceptable.
The clause was widely viewed as discriminatory and meant that LGBT support in schools was effectively outlawed, but it was supported by major news outlets including the Daily Mail, The Sun and The Telegraph, and remained in effect until 2000, by which point several young people had taken their own lives.
On social media, JVL was forced to defend Manson’s comment, after a fiery backlash. One Twitter user wrote: “As a Jewish lesbian I am offended, and as a person with a brain it is a baseless comparison.”
Another wrote: “Section 28 was legislation that attempted to shame LGBT people into non-existence… Absolutely disgusting comparison.”
In response, JVL tweeted: “She didn’t say that. She compared the chilling effects on free speech and freedom of thought of s28 and IHRA, something pertinent and very different. But let’s not spoil a good lie.”
In her apology, Manson said she had been “misunderstood” and that she was “very upset that people are upset”.
Listen to the Jewish Views podcast: