Birmingham City Council wins injunction against parents protesting over LGBT lessons
By Chris Robertson, news reporter
Protesters who have been gathering outside a school to demonstrate against the teaching of same-sex relationships have been banned from the area following a court order.
Birmingham City Council was granted a temporary High Court injunction following several weeks of protests outside Anderton Park Primary School.
The council said it pursued the legal action after the situation became "too serious to tolerate".
It cited "increasing fears for the safety and well-being of the staff, children and parents of the school when they come back from their half-term break".
The interim injunction covers the streets immediately surrounding the school and prevents protesters printing or distributing leaflets, inviting others to protest and encouraging people to congregate at the entrance.
It also prohibits people from using social media to make abusive comments about staff, specifically relating to the equalities programme at the school.
Demonstrations began escalating in the week before half-term. Those taking part have included people who do not have children at the school, or who are not from the city.
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The leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, said: "I'm pleased that common sense has prevailed because children right across Birmingham should be free to attend school safely and without disruption.
"All our schools must be safe spaces and we will not tolerate the ongoing intimidation of parents, hard-working school staff and local residents.
"This interim injunction has been secured in time for the return to school on Monday (3 June) and now hopefully the pupils will be able to continue their education in peace for the remainder of the summer term.
"We'll continue to support the school and its staff and I would urge parents to take this opportunity to engage in constructive dialogue with the school about any concerns they may have."
The court order says people except the named defendants, which includes Shakeel Asfar, the protest leader, "shall not… organise, engage in, or encourage any other person to engage in any protest against the teaching of equalities at Anderton Park Primary School".
It also says that people breaking the injunction could be sent to prison.
Education Secretary Damien Hinds said: "I welcome the High Court's decision to put this injunction in place. It is not right to protest in front of schools – it is frightening to children and disrespectful to hard working teachers.
"This will allow children to return to school and parents to continue peaceful and constructive discussions with staff.
"I'm grateful for the support of Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police. My officials will continue to work alongside them to encourage dialogue between all parties.
"I support and trust head teachers to make decisions in the interests of their pupils – parents should share their views and concerns, and schools should listen.