Respect rejects call to oppose Racial and Religious Hatred Bill
An amendment calling for opposition to the Bill was defeated. Ifhat Shaheen from Hackney, east London, spoke against the amendment. She said, “As a Muslim woman I face racial abuse every day – but I can’t even call it racial abuse, because as a Muslim I’m not covered by the Race Relations Act. Sikhs and Jewish people are already covered – if they suffer abuse because of their religion, they are protected under the law. So why, when a bill is put forward that will give Muslims the same protection, does it suddenly become an issue of limiting people’s free speech?”
Respect conference reaffirms commitment to opposing homophobia
While there was one speech arguing that the organisation had not sufficiently highlighted the issue at the general election, there were three others detailing how clear arguments for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality were put and won.
Dave Goodfield from Coventry said, “We have just seen the recent appalling murder of a young man, Jody Dobrowski, on Clapham Common.” Dave called for a clear stand against bigotry, wherever it comes from, and rejected the idea that black and Muslim communities are in some way the main source of such attacks.
Delegates were shocked when he read out a quote – “what does a moderate Muslim do, other than excuse the real nutters by adhering to this barmy doctrine?” – and revealed it came not from the far right, but from a gay publication. He told delegates this was an extreme reflection of a “disproportionate focus” by a small number of activists against homophobia on African Caribbeans and Muslims.
Coventry’s amendment was passed unanimously. The overwhelming feeling among delegates was both to campaign against homophobia and also not to allow the issue of lesbian and gay rights to be cynically used as a cover for Islamophobia.