Commenting on the planned East London Gay Pride march scheduled for 2 April, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said:
“OutRage! is not supporting East London Gay Pride, following the revelation of links between some of the organisers and the right-wing English Defence League (EDL). I have also withdrawn my personal support. We fear the march will be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people,” he said.
“OutRage! opposes both homophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. All forms of intolerance are wrong. The gay, Muslim, Jewish, Asian and black communities know the pain of prejudice and discrimination. We should stand together, united against hate. Let’s celebrate East London’s multicultural diversity. Don’t let bigotry divide us. Together, we can defeat the hate-mongers.
“While defending the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and inter-sex (LGBTI) people to protest against homophobia and the ‘Gay Free Zone’ stickers, it would be best if the march was postponed until a later date and organised by a broad-based grassroots and community coalition, untainted by associations with the EDL.
“Muslim organisations and speakers should be invited to participate in the rescheduled East London Pride.
“Sadly, the East London Mosque and its London Muslim Centre must bear some responsibility for previously stoking homophobia. They have hosted anti-gay hate preachers such as Abdul Karim Hattin who delivered a presentation called ‘Spot The Fag’.
“Hattin is not the only homophobe who has been given a platform. So have anti-gay clerics Muhammad Alshareef, Abdullah Hakim Quick and Bilal Philips.
“These fundamentalist hate preachers fuel a culture of homophobia that first and foremost intimidates and threatens LGBTI Muslims. Our Muslim sisters and brothers must be defended against those who advocate harming them.
“We welcome the East London Mosque’s assurance that it will not give a platform to anti-gay speakers in the future. We urge them to establish a regular, permanent dialogue with LGBTI organisations, including Muslim ones, to foster solidarity between the LGBTI and Muslim communities and to combat both homophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice.
“The vast majority of British Muslims are not fundamentalist fanatics. They don’t support hate preachers. Although most of them do not approve of homosexuality, they do not discriminate or harm LGBTI people. We must be very careful to distinguish between Muslim people in general and the extremist minority who oppose democracy and human rights and who want to establish a clerical dictatorship,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, the LGBTI human rights campaign organisation.