A group of activists have today sent out a press release welcoming a promise by East London mosque that it will ban homophobic speakers. This is excellent news for two reasons.
First, it shows that a Mosque is willing to listen to the concerns of the wider community in the area that its in, rather than just of Muslims. Second, it shows that debate and negotiation on behalf of activists works better than slagging off people on either side.
East London mosque is influential enough, and I hope this will set a precedent for other mosque around the country to follow (though, don’t bank on it, as there are many Muslim groups with different traditions).
Gay, Feminist, Humanist and Muslim Activists Welcome Mosque Pledge to Ban Homophobic Speakers
* LGBT, Feminist, Humanist and Muslim activists express their support for the East London Mosque’s significant statement promising to prevent its premises from being used as a platform for homophobic speakers.
* The Mosque’s statement is an important step in building trust and goodwill in the local community.
* We urge the Mosque to publicise its commitment through the local, Asian and religious media.
* We celebrate diversity in the community and stand united with our neighbours against anti-Muslim bigotry and homophobia.
In the Open Letter sent out 7 June regarding the Gay Free Zone case, a number of gay and feminist activists closed by saying:
The East London Mosque claims to have no responsibility over those who speak there. The East London Mosque also claims to be opposed to the ‘gay-free zone’ campaign and homophobia. We demand that the East London Mosque live up to its stated word, take ownership of its platform and stop allowing its premises to be used to promote gay-hate campaigns.
Salman Farsi, Communications Officer from the East London Mosque, speaking to the Guardian (link here) responded by saying:
Any speaker who is believed to have said something homophobic will not be allowed to use our premises, whether that is us organising an event or someone else. As for the condemnation of homophobia, our director has gone on the record on this.
We, the undersigned, welcome the East London Mosque’s statement that they will no longer allow their premises to be used by homophobic speakers and take them at their word. Eliminating a platform for hate in such an influential institution as the East London Mosque is a strong, positive action and will have a very positive effect on both the local gay and Muslim communities.
Hate and division have no place in Tower Hamlets or anywhere else. Extremists, of both the religious and political variety, seek to keep us divided and at each others’ throats. Through this action, the East London Mosque will help to rebuild trust between and within communities and to thwart the attempts of those who would try to play us off against each other.
We request that the East London Mosque make this policy known on its website – and to the Muslim, Asian and East London media – so that the entire community can see their commitment to stopping homophobia and to improving community relations.
We also welcome Mr Farsi’s statement regarding Mr Hasnath’s sentencing: “I can see where the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community is coming from. That £100 fine was a slap on the wrist.”
We celebrate East London’s diverse multicultural communities and affirm the need to tackle all intolerance. Both Muslims and LGBT people – especially LGBT Muslims – know the pain of prejudice, discrimination and hate crime. We stand together with our neighbours, united against all hate. Anti-Muslim bigotry and homophobia have no place in our communities.
Elly Barnes, Diversity Leader – Stoke Newington School
Julie Bindel, Journalist and Feminist Campaigner
David Bridle, Managing Editor of London’s gay weekly Boyz Magazine
Paul Burston, Author, Journalist, Editor of Time Out’s Gay & Lesbian Section.
Gaby Charing, Chair, Southwark LGBT Network
Nicolas Chinardet, LBGT Activist
Eddie Clarke, Publisher
Darren Cooper, Senior Consultant at Out Now Consulting
Desiree Cooper, International development professional and human rights activist
Tony Fenwick, Co-Chair, Schools Out and LGBT History Month
Faisal Gazi, Software developer, anti-racism activist and blogger
Paul Harfleet, Artist, Founder of The Pansy Project: www.thepansyproject.com
Alex Hopkins, Journalist, Editor; Publisher, Dissident Musings blog
Adam Knowles, Chair, Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association
Colm Howard-Lloyd, Trustee, Pride London
Derek Lennard, IDAHO-UK (International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia) Coordinator
Mandy McCartin, Artist and Resident of East London
Fiez Mughal, Oral Surgeon, Muslim LGBT advocate & human rights activist & blogger
Mac McDermott, Publisher, HOMOVISIONTV
Kylie Revels, Human Rights Activist
Linda Riley, Managing Director, Square Peg Media, Publishers of g3, Out in the City and Pride London Magazines
Sue Sanders, Co-Chair, Schools Out and LGBT History Month
Paul Shetler, Human Rights Activist, Coordinator of London 2011 Summer of Love Campaign
Ian Sinclair Romanis, Gay Man and Resident of Hackney
Gavin Simpson, Founder, discodamaged.com, London’s alternative gay clubbing and lifestyle site
Patrick Strudwick, Journalist
Peter Tatchell, Director, Peter Tatchell Foundation
Christian Taylor, Journalist: SameSame.com.au and GayTimes Magazine
Adrian Tippetts, Human Rights Campaigner and Journalist
Matthew Todd, Editor, Attitude Magazine
Marco Tranchino, Campaigns Officer, Central London Humanist Group
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