In a disturbing turn of events, Paul Golding, the leader of the far-right political group Britain First, has resorted to baseless insinuations about Sam Smith, the non-binary singer who has been openly embracing their queerness and gender identity throughout 2023. Golding’s inflammatory remarks were triggered by a seemingly harmless TikTok video where Smith sported a pair of lime green, knee-high heeled boots adorned with soft toy versions of Teletubbies character Dipsy.
Smith’s bold fashion choices, though well within the norms of pop culture, have provoked the ire of bigots, who have resorted to hurling anti-LGBTQ+ slurs across social media platforms. Golding, sharing the video on a now-deleted tweet, shockingly declared that “Sam Smith needs his hard drive checked ASAP,” insinuating that Smith might be involved in illegal activities. Such derogatory phrases are often used to imply criminal behavior without any basis in fact.
The Far-Right Backlash and Misinformed Perceptions
Golding’s comments have ignited a flurry of social media users suggesting that Smith is a “deviant,” encouraging dangerous notions that queer individuals should be imprisoned or attacked. This incident has exposed the deeply rooted prejudice and ignorance that persist in society, with some joining Golding in equating the act of wearing Teletubbies boots to being a “groomer.”
Paul Golding, leader of Britain First, an extremist far-right political group in the UK, has a history of spreading hate and misinformation. The group opposes religious and racial diversity, consistently propagating anti-multiculturalism rhetoric and showing animosity towards Islam. Additionally, they vehemently oppose LGBTQ+ inclusion, falsely accusing schools of “indoctrinating” children and labeling drag performers as part of “LGBT propaganda” engaged in “grooming” children.
Golding’s Troubled Past
Ironically, Golding himself has faced legal consequences for his actions. In 2018, he and the party’s former deputy leader, Jayda Fransen, were convicted of religiously aggravated harassment for targeting individuals in Kent, falsely accusing them of being involved in a rape trial. They distributed offensive leaflets and made unfounded allegations, leading to Golding’s conviction and a prison sentence of 18 weeks.
It is essential to note that Britain First was banned on Twitter and remains banned on Facebook. This incident involving Sam Smith serves as a stark reminder of the persistent discrimination and hatred faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and the urgent need for greater awareness and education to combat such prejudice.
Legal Ramifications and Defamation
While the use of anti-LGBTQ+ slurs like “groomer” has surged on social media platforms in recent years, legal experts caution that such defamatory terms could lead to lawsuits. Lee Fisher, a partner specializing in defamation at Blake Morgan LLP, warns that comments like “groomer” and “paedophile,” when devoid of factual basis, can indeed result in legal actions. These incidents underscore the significance of responsible online discourse and the consequences that can follow when defamatory language is wielded recklessly.
Sam Smith’s fashion choices should be celebrated as a form of self-expression and a celebration of their identity, rather than an excuse for baseless accusations and hate. The incident serves as a reminder of the ongoing battle for LGBTQ+ acceptance and the importance of combating misinformation and prejudice in our society.