Oxford City Council cancels priest's talk on transgenderism following complaints

Dr Jules Gomes

Oxford City Council has been strongly criticised after pulling a public lecture by a conservative priest and writer on transgenderism and feminism.

Dr Jules Gomes, who blogs as 'Rebel Priest', had been due to give a talk on Thursday for the Oxford Men's Group called 'Feminism was women's great enemy - until transgenderism came along'.

In a last minute intervention, Oxford City Council announced that the free talk, which was to be held in the town hall, had been cancelled.

In a statement, Ian Brooke, head of community services, said: "We have cancelled the booking for this event. We were not aware of the subject of the lecture when the booking was made, and we would like to apologise to Oxford's LGBTQIA+ community for the distress this has caused.

"We support Oxford Pride festival and the LGBT+ Oxfordshire website, and this lecture does not accord with our core commitment to valuing diversity. 

"While we support the principle of free speech this does not give anyone the right to use Oxford City Council as a platform for discriminatory speech.

"It has no place in any of our buildings, and we are undertaking a review of our bookings policy to prevent this from happening again." 

Twitter users have accused Oxford City Council of racism and trying to shut down debate. 

Church of England priest Peter Ould tweeted: "They don't even know the message because they haven't heard it. They just banned an asian man because he might say something they disagreed with. Looks a bit racist to me..." 

Conservative Christian blogger Archbishop Cranmer tweeted: "So to be clear, @OxfordCity Council, you only permit lectures with messages you endorse? Is that correct? So the fact the @DrJulesGomes brings a minority ethnic perspective to 'feminism' (which is a complex range of ideologies) is trumped by the imagined fear of offending people?" 

Oxford City Council said in a further tweet: "We're not closing down a discussion. We're just saying it's not happening in one of our buildings." 

Dr Gomes was a vicar in the Church of England before being banned from ministry in 2016 following a disciplinary hearing into his conduct.