Lesbian and Gay activists say “Don’t support the BNP” – the truth about the Freedom of Expression rally
LGBT activists have expressed deep concerns at the Freedom of Expression rally due to take place this Saturday. The event has received support from fascist group the BNP, and “Civil Liberty” which is co-ordinated by BNP regional organiser Kevin Scott, who holds convictions for assault and using threatening words and behaviour(1). The BNP is calling the forthcoming local elections a “referendum on Islam”.
LGBT activists have expressed concerns that some Lesbian and Gay organisations, and other mainstream figures, could be seen to lend legitimacy to the event. Speakers billed as appearing include Peter Tatchell, GALHA (The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association), Dr. Evan Harris and the British Institute of Human Rights. The event is also supported by UKIP, whose London Mayoral candidate Frank Maloney remarked that he didn’t intend to visit the north London borough of Camden because there were “too many gays” there. Godfrey Bloom, UKIP MEP for Yorkshire and the Humber, who was selected to represent his party on the European Parliament’s women’s rights committee, has argued that “no self-respecting small businessman with a brain in the right place would ever employ a lady of child-bearing age”.
The Libertarian Alliance Director Sean Gabb is also billed as speaking. He defended the right to free speech of an evangelical Christian in Sweden who had been convicted under that country’s anti-hatred legislation after describing homosexuality as “abnormal, a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of society”. The Libertarian Alliance also states that “the Commission for Racial Equality and all similar organisations should be abolished, and their records burned”, and that all the legislation making racial discrimination illegal should also be abolished.
An Imaan spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned that LGBT people and organisations appear to be supporting this rally. Our members support freedom of expression and free speech, but this is being exploited by this demo which appears to be aligning elements in society which have singled out the Muslim community, under the guise of ‘free expression’. Organisers of the march were encouraging supporters to bring placards with the Danish cartoons on them, which caused deep offence to the Muslim community for their racist caricatures. They have since backed down, but we are concerned about a number of comments posted by individuals to their website that seem to be reacting to this decision in a way that we feel is hostile towards Islam; this seems to be revealing the real intentions of some of those intending to march under the banner of ‘Freedom of Expression’. Any hostilities whipped up against the Muslim community have a direct impact on LGBT Muslims who suffer from Islamophobia. We call on everyone in the LGBT community to show solidarity with us against Islamophobia at this difficult time.”
Denis Fernando of the Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism said:
“Peter Tatchell has issued a statement regarding his addressing of the demo stating ‘In January, I challenged Sir Iqbal Sacranie of the Muslim Council of Britain when he denounced homosexuality as immoral, harmful and diseased. But I did not seek to ban him, nor did I support calls for his prosecution. I defended Sir Iqbal’s right to free speech. Will he and his fellow MCB leaders now defend my right to freedom of expression?’ However, Peter Tatchell and Outrage actually called for Iqbal Sacranie and the MCB to be withdrawn from the Unite Against Fascism conference(2), which brought together all those who oppose the disturbing growth of the BNP, including Muslims and LGBT activists. Peter Tatchell is now speaking at a rally which is being built and supported by the BNP and the Libertarian Alliance. This is of serious concern to the LGBT movement. In areas where the BNP are active, racist and homophobic incidents increase.”
For more information contact Lesbian and Gay Coalition Against Racism