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A Maldon town councillor has outraged “dismayed and disappointed” business owners after making homophobic comments about same sex marriage and the LGBTQ+ pride flag.
Councillor Revd Tony Shrimpton (Ind, North Ward) made the comments at a Maldon Town Council meeting on purchasing a pride flag to fly outside Moot Hall on Monday.
Maldon District Council took to Twitter to voice its support for gay rights in response.
More than 20 Maldon businesses, including Mrs Salisbury’s Famous Tea Rooms and Anvil & Ivy Jewellery, said in an open letter they were “completely and utterly dismayed and disappointed,” and said Cllr Shrimpton had gone against the code of conduct.
In an open letter, the business leaders said: “It’s 2021 and we were absolutely shocked to see the blatant homophobic and outdated comments made by Councillor Shrimpton and others in the August 16 council meeting about purchasing the LGBTQ+ pride flag.”
“As members of the town council you have a responsibility to represent Maldon as a community as a whole, and that includes LGBTQ+ members living and running businesses here.
“We are bitterly disappointed in this council for not holding Mr Shrimpton and others to account and rest assured we will be using our voices to do so and ensure comments like this do not happen again.”
The Local Democracy Reporting Service repeatedly made attempts to speak to Cllr Shrimpton, but he did not comment in time for publication.
Cllr Shrimpton is reported to have voiced his opposition to the flag on the grounds of his disagreement with same sex marriage.
He said at the meeting: “I’m not very keen on calling same sex weddings weddings. When you’re talking about same sex weddings, you’re not talking about weddings.”
According to the letter, others at the meeting said: “Flying a flag sets a precedent,” and “why aren’t we flying flags for other people.”
Maldon District Council said it was aware of the comments and reasserted its support for LGBTQ+ rights.
It tweeted: “We are aware of comments made at a recent Maldon Town Council meeting about the #Pride flag.
“Maldon District Council is proud to support pride and the LGBTQ+ community including flying the flags during Pride and Transgender Awareness Day each year.
The open letter’s co-signatories include Mrs Salisbury’s, Anvil & Ivy, Silo Refillery, Heart of Craft, Clear Ear, Foot Freedom, Willow & Fox, Luna Blue Interiors, Dawn Interiors, The Gnome Cafe, Dante’s, Chic Petite, Maldon Books, Aesthetic Hair, Bridal Reloved Maldon, Just The Thing, Ansell and Sons, The Hair Room, Crystal Shack, Rubino Kitchen, Miss Rachel Holland, Luxury Home Fragrances and many other local businesses.