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A British lawmaker has spoken out about a “torrent” of homophobic abuse he received after sharing a photo on Valentine’s Day with his boyfriend.
Luke Pollard, Member of Parliament (MP) for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport in England, posted a photo with his boyfriend, Sydney, on Twitter, writing, “Happy Valentine’s Day to my lovely boyfriend!”
That post led to “trolls” attacking the Labour Party politician for his sexuality and for the perceived age difference between Pollard and his partner, including calling Pollard a pedophile.
One person branded Pollard a “dirty Labour nonce,” a slang term for a pedophile, and another said Pollard’s boyfriend “looks 12 years old” and told 40-year-old Pollard he “should be locked up.”
Speaking to ITV News, Pollard said he didn’t expect a simple declaration of love to “unleash such a torrent of trolls and abuse.”
“As far as I was concerned, I was posting a picture of me and my boyfriend in the same way that loads of people on my social news feeds were posting pictures of them in their relationships,” Pollard said. “A simple expression of something that I thought should have been just a nice post that a few people would like and people would scroll on by. I had no idea it would unleash such a torrent of trolls and abuse.”
Pollard added: “Sadly the story for many LGBT relationships is a different one with a different set of rules to straight relationships.
“Until we break down those barriers and say love is love, it doesn’t matter who you fall in love with, what background they are, what gender or sexuality, as long as you are happy as two consenting adults coming together, that’s a good thing, then we’re still going to have to fight the trolls to make the case that we’ve got to stand up to hate and abuse wherever we see it.”
Happy Valentine’s Day to my lovely boyfriend! X pic.twitter.com/X6ZJsIFQI4
— Luke Pollard MP (@LukePollard) February 14, 2021
Pollard told BBC News that Sydney is “a few years younger than me, and, because he’s from Chinese heritage, he looks a few years younger than that as well.”
He said the couple has “an amazing relationship” and that they’ve been together for “many years.” But the response to their photo was a reminder that the battle for LGBTQ equality “is not yet up.”
“Regardless of sexuality, gender, age or background, [Valentine’s Day] is a moment to celebrate that love that you have,” Pollard said.
Many people came to Pollard’s defense on Twitter, with some noting the age gap between British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, 56, and his fiancée Carrie Symonds, 32, including Liberal Democrat Councillor Matthew Hulbert.
Hulbert tweeted: “This is a beautiful picture, of a couple clearly in love. Those who bemoan the perceived ‘age gap’ here, but don’t do so when it comes to the PM and his female partner, are being (whether they realise it or not) homophobic. They should have a word with themselves. Love is Love.”
Another person tweeted: “There’s a 24 year age difference between the PM and his current girlfriend, but of course everyone is making awful comments about these two because homophobia.”
One person responded: “The fact that gay people are having to jump to Luke’s defence for posting a photo of himself with his boyfriend on Valentine’s Day tells you all you need to know about the rampant homophobia in this country.”
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