CUSU LGBT+ has descended into bitter factionalism after a referendum has been called to remove Get Real Co-Editor, Hesham Mashhour.
In accordance with the constitution of the campaign, a referendum must be held on any motion which receives more than 30 signatures in support. CUSU LGBT+ Chair, Jack Renshaw has today announced that a referendum will be held this Tuesday after the required number of signatures has been reached. Renshaw was unable to confirm or deny suggestions that members of the committe were amongst the signatories in order to protect the identities of those taking part in the petition.
After Varsity reported earlier this week that a letter had accused Mashhour of publishing views “which contribute to the marginalisation of certain groups” as well as “alienating” members of the LGBT+ community “whose voices are least heard already”, the referendum calls for Mashhour’s removal from position of Co-Editor and requires a two-thirds super majority to pass.
Mashhour has taken to Facebook to rebut the accusations levelled against them, accusing Co-Editor Em Travis of barring their access to Get Real’s online publishing facility, labelling this “shameful and disgusting behaviour.” Renshaw, in a statement on the CUSU LGBT+ Facebook page claimed that both Travis and Mashhour have had their access revoked, "in the interests of the magazine". Mashhour has since contested this, suggesting that Travis does in fact have access to the Get Real website.
Posts to the page as well as a number of other LGBT+ forums by Mashhour have been removed within the last hour. When questioned on this, Renshaw responded "CUSU LGBT+ removed the comments made by Hesham in the Facebook group because they contained personal attacks against certain individuals. As we operate safe-space guidelines on our groups, moderators were obligated to remove the posts."
Controversy arose after the Get Real editor compared the Women’s Campaign to “Hitler” while claiming that his decision earlier this year to split the Get Real editorship into two roles was merely a form of "appeasement". This "appeasement" of the Women’s Campaign was deemed necessary after an article entitled 'Feminism’s Duty to Gay Men' drew widespread condemnation.
After the decision to hold the referendum was announced, Mashhour asked “if you’re not on the mailing list, make sure you are by Tuesday”. However, additions to the mailing list have since been closed by the moderators, with Renshaw posting on the CUSU LGBT+ Facebook post that “The committee has had a quick meeting, and we have decided that we are not taking anymore sign-ups until after the referendum has taken place.”
Renshaw justified the decision by saying that “The reason why is that we are suspicious of attempts at vote-rigging” and saying that subscriptions would be reopened after the referendum. He later added that unregistered members of CUSU LGBT+ will be able to vote in person at the CUSU offices on Tuesday.
The Cambridge Student also approached Co-Editor Em Travis, but they have declined to comment.
This article was updated at 21:15 on 17/05/15 to reflect developments in the situation.