PinkNews.co.uk exclusive

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell says that the Mayor of London’s assertion that he conducted an Islamophobic campaign is nonsense – and he wants him to apologise.

In a press statement released earlier today, Ken Livingstone accused Mr Tatchell of focusing on the homophobia of the grand Mufti, a Russian Islamic cleric.

“In Moscow the Russian Orthodox church, the chief rabbi and the grand Mufti all supported the ban on the Gay Pride march with the main role, due to its great weight in society, being played by the Orthodox church,” Mr Livingstone’s statement read.

“The attempt of Mr Tatchell to focus attention on the role of the grand Mufti in Moscow, in the face of numerous attacks on gay rights in Eastern Europe which overwhelmingly come from right wing Christian and secular currents, is a clear example of an Islamophobic campaign.”

Mr Tatchell told PinkNews.co.uk that the Mayor is wrong:

“Anyone who has read the OutRage! news release about the Moscow Mayor’s visit will know that we have not mentioned a word about the grand Mufti.

“A year ago we once criticised the grand Mufti after he urged his followers to violently attack gay people in the streets.

“But the main focus of our criticism during that campaign was on the homophobia of the Chief Rabbi, the Russian Orthodox Church, neo-Nazis and ultra-nationalists.

“To suggest that this was an Islamophobic campaign was nonsense despicable and brings the Mayor’s office into disrepute. He has made a very serious libellous statement.

“I am calling on him to produce the evidence to back up his claim that our campaign has focused on the grand Mufti. If he cannot produce the evidence he should do the honourable thing and issue a public apology to myself and OutRage!

“It is scandalous for a major politician to blatantly lie in this way – it is political opportunism of the worst kind.”

Mr Tatchell pointed out that he has supported Mr Livingstone for over 30 years, and I helped draft his gay rights policy for the 2000 mayoral election.