The LGBT Humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust (PTT) has reacted angrily to the decision taken by Pride in London to ask its communities team to investigate the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) with a view to possibly banning it from future Pride events.
The decision to investigate was taken after organisers of Pride in London received a number of complaints regarding some placards carried by a group during this year’s parade in London on July 8.
PTT Secretary George Broadhead, said: “This decision is appalling. The accusation from the East London Mosque that the CEMB was inciting hatred against Muslims at this year’s London Pride event is baseless nonsense. East London Mosque seems to have made a brazen attempt to deflect criticism of its bad record on LGBT rights. It has a history of inviting ultra homophobic speakers to its meetings. Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has revealed that he has asked the mosque to meet LGBT Muslims 11 times since 2015 – and all his invitations had been rejected.
“Pride in London seems to be ignoring the widespread Islamic hostility to LGBT+ relationships and rights, notably the barbaric treatment of LGBT+ people in Islamic theocracies like Saudi Arabia in which Sharia Law dictates that they are publicly beheaded, stoned or flogged.
“The Islamic penalty for apostasy (abandoning the religion) is death, and this of course applies to members of the CEMB, and a recent survey has indicated that more than half of British Muslims (52%) think homosexuality should be illegal and nearly half (47%) think it is inappropriate for gay people to teach in schools.
“The PTT maintains that the CEMB has every right to draw attention to hostility from Islam and urges Pride in London organisers not to place religion beyond criticism. This would be a highly regressive step and contrary to its presumed aim to counter homophobia from any source.”
A spokesperson for Pride in London said: “We do not feel it is our role to make a legal judgement about offense or freedom of speech. However, it is our role to determine if a group has broken our code of conduct and whether they can be permitted to march again in future parades.
“It has been argued that some of the placards are a legitimate form of protest. However, there were some placards we feel may have the potential to breach our code of conduct.
“We have referred these complaints to our Community Advisory Board, who assess every parade entry after each year and decide on which groups will be allowed to march again. This decision will be taken prior to the opening of parade entries in 2018.
“LGBT+ Muslims play a vital and important role in London and in Pride. We recognise that Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Muslims face discrimination on both sides, from people within their faith and also from within the LGBT+ community.
“Over the years the parade has been a place of acceptance for LGBT+ Muslims and this year Imaan, the LGBT+ charity was voted the winner of the best walking group in the parade for the diversity and passion they displayed.
“Equally, it is also very important that individuals who once did but no longer follow the Muslim faith have a welcome place in the Pride parade. We acknowledge the difficulties individuals leaving the faith can sometimes encounter and do not in any way seek to diminish the significance of those experiences.
“We are eager to stand side-by-side with every community that supports LGBT+ people at home and abroad. Equally, we also feel that the LGBT+ community can and must do more to tackle hatred and bigotry in all its forms, especially racism and Islamophobia.
“We believe Pride in London must continue to play a vital role in supporting LGBT+ Muslims, and will be meeting with the organisations concerned, community groups and charities to further these efforts. It is our ambition to build common ground to stand up for communities that are more harmonious and supportive, valuing all citizens, no matter their faith or sexuality.”