WATCH: Angela Eagle breaks down in tears as she tells LGBT protesters 'we aren't getting back in the closet'
A tearful Labour MP has hit out at the parents protesting against LGBT education, defiantly telling them “we aren't going to get back in the closet”.
Angela Eagle gave an emotional speech in the Commons after a row over teaching children about same-sex relationships has seen angry protests outside schools in Birmingham for the past 12 weeks.
Her voice breaking, she told the chamber: "We know that the motivations of some of those involved in this are reactionary, and they are to return us to an era where LGBT people should get back in the closet and hide and be ashamed of the way they are.
"We aren't going to get back in the closet or hide or be ashamed of the way we are.
“And nor are we going to allow a generation of pupils that are now in school to go through what the pupils in the 80s had to go through because this chamber let them down, and nor are we going to allow this to happen in the name of religion."
The MP for Wallasey was speaking in a debate led by her Labour colleague Roger Godsiff, who was reprimanded by the party’s chief whip Nick Brown after being filmed telling the parents involved in a demonstration in his constituency they were “right” to do so.
He was heckled by his own benches during his speech after he defended those involved and repeatedly refused calls for him to give way and allow interventions.
Mr Godsiff, who represents Hall Green, said: "There was no consultation with the parents, and the headteacher made it plain that no consultation was going to take place and no collective meetings with parents were held."
He described the protesters as "mostly young mothers" who had "done nothing wrong” and were not homophobic, instead saying the "headteacher should step down".
However he concluded with an apology, saying: "I regret the controversies which have arisen around the two schools in Birmingham.
“I believe they could have been avoided if the schools had taught the provisions of the Equality Act in different ways and taken the parents' concerns into account.
"For my part, I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused to any person of whatever sexual orientation by anything I've said or written.
"In particular, I apologise unreservedly to members of the LGBT community in Birmingham and throughout the country for anything I may have said or written which has caused offence to them. I can assure you it most certainly was not intended."
But Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, accused his Mr Godsiff of “repulsive pandering to bigotry”.
He tweeted: “Sorry I’m not in the chamber today to oppose Roger Godsiff’s repulsive pandering to bigotry, I can’t believe he understands the severe harm homophobia causes to children who are LGBT or from LGBT families - sadly I’m stuck at home with food poisoning.”
And a number of others were supportive of Ms Eagle, with Portsmouth South MP Stephen Morgan saying he was “really proud” of her for her “passionate speech”, adding: “Roger Godsiff’s support for school gate protests stirs up tension and puts progress achieved today at risk.”
Redcar MP Anna Turley tweeted: “So much love for the inspirational Angela Eagle. No one should have to make this speech in 2019. But I’m glad she did.”
That was echoed by shadow business minister Chi Onwurah, who said she was “so glad she had the courage to do so”, and Canterbury MP Rosie Duffield who said Ms Eagle “gave such a moving and heartfelt speech”.