Gay activists are criticising Menzies Campbell, leader of the Liberal Democrats, who is set to award an St Andrews University honorary doctorate to the former Iranian president Mohamed Khatami at the end of October.
Campaigners are outraged at the move by the Lib Dem leader. Khatami is known to be a supporter of Sharia law, which is by nature homophobic and has been known to have condemned thousands to persecution and many to death in Iran during his regime.
Sharia law condemns people as young as nine to hanging for Gay sex.
The award is seen as deeply contradictory of Lib Dem policy. Muslim Affairs spokesperson for campaign group Outrage! Has branded the politician a hypocrite for honouring the openly homophobic former Iranian leader who would not condemn the death penalty for homosexuality at an interview at Harvard earlier in the year.
“Sir Menzies agreement to honour a homophobe like Khatami contradicts the Lib Dem’s supposed commitment to lesbian and gay human rights. It is a big disappointment,” said Mohamed Ali bin Mahmoud, Muslim Affairs spokesperson for OutRage!.”
This follows numerous incidents in which individuals and couples have been hanged, harassed and imprisoned for their sexuality. The National Union of students is planning to protest for a variety of other human rights abuses by Kathami’s regime, including the violent suppression of students protests.
The Lib Dems brushed off the criticism insisting it doesn’t reflect policy, a spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk: “This is a decision that has been taken by St Andrew’s University. As Chancellor of St Andrews University Sir Menzies Campbell plays no part in the decision making process, since the role of Chancellor is entirely honorary.”
The ceremony will take place at St. Andrews University on the 31st of October and will be followed by a speech by Kathami at Chatham House in London. Protests are being urged at both events.