Calls for Newham Council’s chair to resign after repeatedly misgendering a councillor at a meeting in February have been rejected. 

Cllr Danny Keeling, who identifies as non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, left the meeting last month to “cool off” after the council’s chair, Cllr Winston Vaughan, referred to them on multiple occasions as “he”. 

The chair did correct himself, only to repeat the same mistake moments later, before another Labour councillor also misgendered Cllr Keeling. 

At a full council meeting on March 20, Cllr Keeling proposed an emergency motion calling on Cllr Vaughan to resign following “repeated failures” from the council. 

Cllr Vaughan left the room as the motion concerning him and deputy chair, Cllr Salim Patel, was discussed. 

Cllr Keeling, leader of the opposition Green Party group, said: “After the event itself, I was hit with over 800 abusive tweets, two death threats and feelings of abuse, humiliation and discrimination in my workplace. 

“As a council, we are here to represent residents and the communities of the borough.” 

Newham Recorder: Cllr Danny KeelingCllr Danny Keeling (Image: Andrew Baker/Newham Council)

They added: “I will remind colleagues that in our borough we have the highest proportion of transgender residents in the UK, and they have the right to be respected, represented and if they so wish be able to enter this chamber and answer questions.” 

During the debate, several Labour councillors backed the chair to stay, pointing out he had apologised to Cllr Keeling. 

Cllr James Asser said: “I think the chair clearly made mistakes in the last meeting for which they apologised, and I understand the committee took training for which they have done.

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“What I am certain, in the chair having spoken to them and knowing them, is that it’s not done with malicious intent.” 

Green Party councillor Nate Higgins, who seconded Cllr Keeling’s emergency motion, described some of the debate’s contributions as “frustrating”, adding the motion was not personal. 

Following the debate, the council took a vote, in which the motion was rejected.

Cllr Vaughan was then invited back into the chamber to chair the rest of the meeting.

On returning to the meeting, Cllr Vaughan said: “Thank you very much colleagues, thank you for your trust in me.

“I did hear some of the debate, I will say nothing further. If anyone needs to come and talk to me about anything, I am quite open to what they have to say – so thank you very much indeed.”