Unity against homophobia and Islamophobia
LAGCAR works with the lesbian and gay comm-unity to promote a broad alliance to defeat the far right and racism. Racist and homophobic hate crimes continue to rise, calling on all minority communities to work together to challenge hatred. LAGCAR believes it is important that this alliance includes the Muslim community who face an unprecedented rise in Islamophobia. Last Au-tumn, mainstream media and politicians targeting Muslim women who wear the Niqab, was followed by a spate of violent racist attacks on Muslim women. Both homophobia and Islamophobia result in violent attacks. The Equality, Diversity and Prejudice in Britain report for the Cabinet office equalities review in Autumn, found comparably high levels of pre-judiced views against both Muslims and lesbians and gay men. These reactions ranged from fear and anger to disgust. Furthermore, black and Muslim lesbian and gay people will feel the impact of both racism and homophobia.
Elements of the press have promoted the divisive agenda that Islam is uniquely reactionary on homosexuality, when the reality is that leaders of all major religions have similarly regressive views on this issue. Demonising Islam in this way impacts upon Muslim lesbians and gay men. Furthermore, vilifying any minoritised comm-unity facing discrimination undermines the capability for finding a common experience between the communities fac-ing homophobia, racism and Islamophobia.
Dialogue on issues of dis-agreement and defending communities where they are under attack breaks down prejudices. We welcome the recent stance by the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), when it supported the new Sexual Orientation Regulations, as part of the new Equality Act 2006. This legislation enshrined equality for lesbians and gay men in the provision of all goods and services. Whilst some elements of the religious lobby tried to defeat these regulations, no major Muslim organization supported these attempts.
LAGCAR was also invited to speak at the National Rally to Defend Freedom of Religion, Conscience and Thought, which was supported by representatives of all faiths and none, and initiated by Liberty and the British Muslim Initiative in response to the racist debate on a woman’s right to wear the hijab.