A damning meme about Theresa May wanting to ‘curb lesbianism’ has gone viral just days before the General Election.
Thousands of people have shared the Tweet, which shows Theresa May’s face against an anti-gay quote.
The viral meme appears to quote Theresa May, writing: “Curbing the promotion of lesbianism in Merton’s schools starts with girls having role models in their lives.”
However the truth behind the quote remains highly questionable.
It first emerged on a Twitter feed called ‘Gideonomics’, which predominantly posts anti-Tory memes and articles.
Many of the memes cite no source for the quotes stuck on images, but get thousands of shares nevertheless.
Some accounts who picked up the story claim that it was a quote from the Wimbledon Guardian newspaper, which is local to Merton.
But when BuzzFeed contacted Jim Palmer, the newspaper’s content editor, he said the paper’s staff had “no idea” if the quote was real since they “don’t have an archive on site”.
Remains of the paper’s editions from that time are scarce – there is no online archive, and local newspaper have only partial editions.
Why does the media keep focussing on what Diane Abbott said in 1983 but not what Theresa May said in 1988? #GE2017 pic.twitter.com/0QmdtSxqak
— Gideonomics (@davessidekick) June 3, 2017
The picture of a young Theresa May featured in the meme is, in fact, from her parliamentary campaign for North-West Durham in 1992, when she ran against an even younger Tim Farron.
What is true is that Theresa May was a councillor in Merton, south west London, between 1986 and 1994.
She reportedly rose to become deputy head of the council, with responsibility for education, making the quote on the meme relevant to her brief at the time.
It was during her years as a Merton councillor, in 1988, that then Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher introduced Section 28 of the Local Government Act, banning the “promotion of homosexuality” by local authorities.
Ten years later, as an MP, Mrs May voted against Section 28 being repealed by parliament.
She would later go on to change her mind on LGBT issues, shifting to vote in favour of pro-equality laws after David Cameron became Conservative Party leader.
Baroness Featherstone credited her as an unsung hero of the same-sex marriage legisaltion.
It’s impossible to prove whether the quote is true or accurate.
There is no evidence – either from the newspaper it’s said to be from, or from online archives – that indicates where the original Twitter user would have found the quote.
Either the user has access to an archieve that others do not, or the quote is simply not true.