The decision to ban a member of the Dutch parliament from entering the United Kingdom has been criticised by a prominent gay rights activist.
Home Secretary Jaqui Smith said that Geert Wilders, a leading rightwing MP and a fierce critic of Muslims, has been denied permission to enter Britain on the grounds that his presence would damage community relations and threaten public order.
Mr Wilders, who describes himself as a “Dutch freedom fighter,” was due to speak at a screening of his controversial film, Fitna.
It examines motivations for terrorism and Islamic universalism, which he claims is promoted by the Koran.
The Arabic word fitna means “disagreement and division among people.”
He is the leader of the Party for Freedom, which has nine MPs.
The Dutch Foreign Secretary Maxime Verhagen has spoken to his British counterpart about the ban.
“The fact that a Dutch parliamentarian is refused entry to another EU country is highly regrettable,” he said.
EU law allows member states to refuse the right of free movement of people across the EU to citizens of other member states if they are judged to constitute a threat to public policy or security.
Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell claims the government’s refusal to ban musicians who promote homophobia was evidence of double standards.
“The Home Secretary is guilty of gross hypocrisy,” he said today.
“She gives visas to demagogues who incite violence and murder, while banning from the UK a Dutch MP who has never incited violence against anyone.
“I do not agree with Mr Wilders, but he has never threatened violence against Muslims.
“The Home Secretary regularly grants visas and work permits to Jamaican reggae singers who openly incite the murder of lesbian and gay people. Incitement to murder is a very serious criminal offence.
“The Home Office and Metropolitan Police also allow radio stations and record stores to promote their murder-inciting CDs.
“Last November, Jacqui Smith gave Jamaican reggae singer Bounty Killer (Rodney Price) permission to perform at a concert in east London. He had been banned from Guyana earlier in 2008 over his murderous lyrics, but the British government said he was welcome to sing in the UK.
“It is double standards to ban Geert Wilders and not Bounty Killer.
“Bounty Killer encourages and glorifies gang violence. At a time when so many young people have been murdered in gang-related gun and knife crime, it is reckless and obscene for the Home Secretary to give Bounty Killer a visa and work permit.”
On his blog Mr Wilders announced that he intends to fly to Britain in spite of the ban.
“We’ll see if the British government is really so cowardly as to ban me from entering the country,” he said.