LGBT & straight Muslims march at Pride London

Post Orlando: LGBT & Muslim communities urged to unite against all hate

London, UK – 27 June 2015


LGBT Muslims and straight Muslim allies joined the Peter Tatchell Foundation’s contingent at Saturday’s Pride London parade, on 25 June.

We marched with the theme: “LGBT-Muslim Solidarity – Fight all hate”

Free to use but please credit the Peter Tatchell Foundation

Our placards featured the slogans:

“LGBT & Muslim Solidarity. Unite against ALL hate,” “Defend LGBT Muslims against EDL & Islamists,” and “Fight both homophobia & anti-Muslim prejudice. Solidarity!”

“In the wake of the horrific mass murder of LGBT people by an Islamist gunman in Orlando, we highlighted the need for dialogue, unity and solidarity between the Muslim and LGBT communities – to oppose all hate. We also challenged homophobia in the Muslim community and defended LGBT Muslims against persecution by fellow Muslims. We support liberal Muslims against the Islamist extremists,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the PTF.

“We condemn those who seek to demonise and scapegoat Muslim people, the vast majority of whom deplore terrorism as much as everyone else. They have often been its victims, as in the terrorist outrages of 9/11 and 7/7. Our thanks to the many Muslims who have spoken out against the Orlando massacre and expressed their condolences and support for the LGBT community,” he said.

Peter Tatchell helped organise the UK’s first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Pride in 1972 and has marched in every parade since then. This was his 43rd Pride London parade (one year in the late 1970s there was no Pride London parade).

Also marching with us were the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group.

Background to the PTF’s LGBT-Muslim Solidarity campaign

“Our LGBT-Muslim Solidarity campaign was launched in East London in October 2015, in response to requests from LGBT Muslims who have suffered abuse and harassment, often from fellow Muslims. Our aim is to bring the Muslim and LGBT communities together, to oppose the prejudice, discrimination and hate crime that both communities suffer,” added Mr Tatchell.

“We want to support and empower LGBT Muslims, to give them a voice and visibility – and to tackle anti-LGBT prejudice in the Muslim community and anti-Muslim prejudice in the LGBT community”, he said.

Gay Muslim student, Safdar Mohammed, who was part of the PTF contingent at Pride, said:

“Homophobia definitely seems to be a problem within the wider Muslim community. This thrives in areas where there’s less integration and a large concentration of Muslims. It’s important to challenge homophobia within the Muslim community….(and) the assumption that the two communities are mutually exclusive …. There are many Muslims who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. LGBT-affirming Muslims often face discrimination on two separate fronts; making it equally imperative that we tackle both homophobia in Islamic communities, as well as rising Islamophobia. The threat to LGBT people from Islamic extremists is very real….(they) take literal interpretations of Qu’ran to justify hate and punishment towards LGBT people. More needs to be done within the Muslim community to expressly counter this narrative, to guarantee that these views do not flourish. The importance creating solidarity between the LGBT and Muslim community serves everyone. Once that is achieved, we can develop loving and respectful relationships with each other.”

Another marcher, gay Muslim and LGBT campaigner, Ejel Khan, added:

“Homophobia exists in all communities, but is particularly acute in my Muslim community because of an intolerance that is wrongly perceived as justified by scripture. The Orlando shootings highlight the importance of challenging homophobia in all of its manifestations. Our LGBT-Muslim Solidarity campaign will, and has already, helped save lives by reaching out and supporting LGBT Muslims. I’m a testament to that. Extremists shouldn’t be able to dictate how we live our lives. That’s why my colleagues and I from the LGBT Muslim community stand with the Peter Tatchell Foundation in its condemnation of homophobia in all its forms, including among extremists who claim to be Muslim.”

Haydar Zaki, the Quilliam Foundation’s Programs Officer & Outreach, also joined the parade. He said:

“Homophobia is something that is becoming increasingly legitimised and must be challenged. It is this dehumanisation of the LGBT+ community which has led to tragedies such as the terrorist attack that took place in Orlando. As a straight ally and Muslim, I participated in Pride to showcase solidarity against homophobia, the need to challenge it from whichever set of ideas it comes from, and the need to end anti-Muslim bigotry by fixating instead on intellectually compromising the theocratic ideals of Islamist ideologues. We must empower the voices that call for the universality of LGBT+ rights – including Muslim reformers – and drown out the calls for the criminalisation of a community purely based on whom they choose to love.”

Tehmina Kazi, the Muslim human rights activist and volunteer at the Inclusive Mosque Initiative, said:

“LGBT Muslims often face ostracisation from their families, communities and mosques. Many have to live double lives, and hide their orientation or same-sex partners from their families. There is evidence that some have even been forced into marriages with members of the opposite sex and been subjected to honour-based violence if they refuse. The dominant interpretations of Islam run counter to LGBT equality and contemporary human rights standards…..(however) the academic work of Scott Siraj ul-Haq Kugle on Islam and homosexuality, and the new online theological resource set up by Daaiyee Abdullah, showcases that LGBT-affirming interpretations of Islam are possible. Homosexuality needs to be talked about more in Islam to avoid further cases like the suicide of gay Muslim Naz Mahmood. It is very important for us to all work together and challenge all kinds of bigotry, whether homophobic, anti-Muslim, anti-Semitic or otherwise.”

Fiyaz Mughal, the Muslim Director of Faith Matters, added:

“Sadly, homophobia is a problem in sections of the Muslim community. When Tell Mama has tackled homophobia, some Muslims have accused us of promoting homosexuality. This is not only untrue, this accusation is homophobia by the backdoor and it plays to a homophobic element, which is unacceptable. Groups purporting to tackle hatred and prejudice cannot be selective in which group is protected against hatred, as these are universal human rights. Mutual solidarity is important, since both the Muslim and LGBT communities have elements of their identity that are targeted for hatred. There are gay Muslims and they deserve to be treated with dignity, equal life chances and be free from fear. So intersectionality, joint campaigning and standing up for each other is fundamental for the future.”

Edwin Sesange, Director of the African LGBTI Out and Proud Diamond Group, said:

“We are calling on people of all faiths to unite against anti-LGBTI hate crimes. Extremist religious teachings perpetuate intolerance towards LGBTI people. We have seen this in the opposition of many faith communities to marriage equality in the UK and in religious support for the anti-gay laws in Uganda, Iran, Pakistan and Nigeria. Religious leaders – Muslim, Christian and Judaist – have a duty to speak out against homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.”

If you were unable to join us but support our LGBT-Muslim Solidarity campaign, please consider making a donation to help the Peter Tatchell Foundation continue its work for equality and diversity for all. Click here.