The former integration tsar, Dame Louise Casey, has accused ministers of “radio silence” over protests against the teaching of LGBT equality at a Birmingham school.
Casey said the government had failed to act on what she described as homophobic demonstrations because it was in the “all-too-difficult box”.
She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that ministers “needed to be much clearer about upholding the laws of this country and the values that we hold”
Campaigners resumed protests outside Anderton Park primary school last week after months of angry demonstrations by some parents against equality lessons that use books featuring same-sex couples.
A number of schools across Birmingham were targeted by the protests, which MPs said had been hijacked by those with a “religious, extremist agenda”.
Most of the protesters have been of Muslim faith and some have stood regularly outside Anderton Park primary chanting “Let kids be kids” and carrying placards with the message: “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
Casey, who wrote a landmark report on integration in Britain, said ministers had “just been too silent” on the issue.
“Laws have been put through parliament that protect religious freedoms and protect the rights of people who are gay and want to get married,” she added.
“That has to be promoted – that we respect both but that both also have to respect each other.”
Casey said the protests stemmed from a lack of integration by some communities. Asked whether she was discriminating against Muslims with her remarks, Casey said: “If I was gay and watching what was happening in Birmingham, I would say it was discriminatory.
“When you see it on the television, what I hear is homophobia and homophobia is not a value I want any child in this country to grow up and learn.”
However, that did little to quell the demonstrations, which continued every week during term time just outside the exclusion zone. A trial in October will determine whether the injunction has been effective.
One of the protesters, Rosina Afsar, whose son goes to Anderton Park, accused Casey of discriminating against people of Muslim faith.
“Saying that we don’t integrate is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard,” she said.
“It’s absolutely nonsense. We have so many friends in interracial relationships so how can we not be mixing?
“Part of British values is also to allow people to live according to their faiths. End of.”
Earlier this month another Birmingham school that suspended lessons about LGBT equality following protests resume a modified version of the programme. Parents of pupils at Parkfield community school in Saltley had staged weekly protests over the relationship lessons, which they claimed promoted gay and transgender lifestyles.
In March, hundreds of mainly Muslim children, aged between four and 11, were withdrawn from the school for the day.
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