UK: Lord Mayor leaves Islamic charity lunch in protest against gender discrimination
A Lord Mayor walked out of an Islamic charity lunch after discovering that he would have to be segregated from his female consort.
Labour councillor John Thomas, 70, arrived at the function last Sunday with consort Margaret Corley, 72.
But Councillor Thomas, the Lord Mayor of Leicester, was said to be upset at being told he would have to dine in an upstairs function room with male guests, while his consort would be seated downstairs with the other women.
The lunch was held to mark the end of Charity Week – an annual fundraising event supported by around 20 university Islamic societies in the UK, and others in Canada and Qatar. It took place at a wedding and conference venue near Leicester railway station.
Guests at the event, who paid £6 a ticket, were told that the week of fundraising to help orphaned and disadvantaged children raised £730,000. But Councillor Thomas seemed to be in no mood for celebrating and left early. It is understood Mrs Corley left with him.
A source at the event said the Mayor had ‘insulted’ other guests by walking out, adding: ‘Students from universities, colleges and schools raised over £732,000 in just one week.‘They contributed their time and efforts to raise money. The Lord Mayor should have respected this work.’ Councillor Thomas, who lives with his disabled wife Irene, 59, in Hamilton, Leicester, declined to comment on the matter.
But another source with knowledge of the incident said the Mayor’s office had previously been sent some information outlining what he could expect at the function. ‘The Mayor says no such information [about sitting separately] was passed to him, so the arrangement seems to have taken him by surprise’, they said.
Gender segregation had been taken to the limit as ticket order forms for the event on Charity Week’s website featured separate boxes for ‘sisters’ and ‘brothers’.
Mrs Corley, who lives in a bungalow in the nearby village of Scraptoft, also declined to comment. She is understood to be a widow, and it is not known how she came to be selected as the Lord Mayor’s consort.
Councillor Thomas was elected to Leicester City Council in 1995 and currently represents Belgrave ward, a largely ethnic Indian district in a city where more than half of the population is non-white.
A spokesman for Islamic Relief, Charity Week’s partner organisation, said Councillor Thomas ‘arrived at the venue but left before the event started’. He added: ‘What happened was an unfortunate misunderstanding for which I want to apologise to the Lord Mayor on behalf of Islamic Relief and Charity Week.
‘None of the Charity Week organisers told the Lord Mayor he could not sit with his partner, and if anyone else at the event did then they were mistaken. The Lord Mayor and his partner would have been more than welcome to enjoy this event together.’....
SDR Wishes to compliment the Lord Mayor for not debating something this disrespectful.