UK Politics

MP criticised after 'attack' on sex education

Stewart Jackson, MP for Peterborough
Image caption The MP's remarks have attracted plenty of comment

A Conservative MP has become involved in a row after appearing to blame the rise in sexually transmitted infections (STIs) on greater sex education.

Writing on Twitter, Stewart Jackson criticised "liberal" calls for more sex education after it emerged there were half a million new STI cases in 2009, a 3% rise on the year before.

He also described critics of his views as "shrill and intolerant lefties".

One sexual health expert said Mr Jackson's views were "concerning".

Mr Jackson, MP for Peterborough since 2005, made the comments on the micro-blogging site after the latest figures showed a rise in STIs last year, continuing the upward trend seen over the past decade.

He wrote: "Very disappointing news on STD [sexually transmitted disease] rates in Peterborough. No doubt our liberal friends will tell us we need more sex education - as it's worked so well!"

After getting feedback about his remarks, he posted another message saying: "Touched a raw nerve with shrill intolerant pro-sex education lefties who don't like debating the issues. Wonder why not?"

In further tweets, he described those attacking him as "sad, tedious sex-obsessed leftie weirdos" who were "unable to debate issues without personal abuse and vicious shrill denunciation".

'Health evidence'

Among those who contacted Mr Jackson to question his comments was Dr Petra Boynton, a lecturer in international health services research at University College, London.

"It is always concerning to see politicians unwilling to listen to health evidence which might help the wellbeing of their constituents," she wrote on her Twitter site.

"Sexual health practitioners, educators and researchers are always willing to share evidence and ensure good practice. Even if politicians ignore us!"

The BBC has been unable to contact Mr Jackson, who is currently on holiday. His office said they were aware of the tweets.

Health ministers have said they would look at what more could be done to increase young people's awareness of the risks involved in unsafe sex following this week's figures.

The data indicated that urban and deprived areas have the highest rates of STIs and that one in 10 of 15-24 year olds become infected again within a year.

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