UK: Government minister Sayeeda Warsi condemns anti-gay east London ‘Muslim vigilante’ groups

January 30, 2013
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Faith and Communities Minister Sayeeda Warsi has condemned Muslim vigilante groups in east London – some of whom recently targeted a gay man with homophobic abuse.

The Conservative peer made the comments on Wednesday afternoon during a studio discussion with human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell on the BBC’s Daily Politics programme.

Baroness Warsi said there was the “same set of laws, and the same police force for everybody”.

Asked by presenter Jo Coburn if homophobia was a specific problem within the Muslim community, Baroness Warsi replied: “I think there is a challenge within lots of faith communities of how we discuss the issue of homosexuality,” she continued. “What people have as a personal religious belief has got be completely separated from discrimination and homophobia and what is actually the law of the land,

“And I think the more we can make that argument – that of course people of faith can have a faith position on how they view homosexuality or indeed how they view heterosexuality – but they must come out and openly condemn homophobia.”

Peter Tatchell, who recorded a film for the programme in Whitechapel, said in the piece that “the condemnation from the Muslim community had been swift and commendable.”

He said Muslims and gay people had both faced discrimination and hate crime and that there was a common interest in working for a tolerant society.

Mr Tatchell called for “equality for all, hatred of none.” Welcoming recent commendation of the incidents by the Muslim Council of Britain, he added: “The challenge for Muslim organisations is to show their commitment to equality by closing their doors to homophobic hate preachers and by supporting an end to the ban on same-sex marriage.”

“Most Muslim people do not seek to impose their personal beliefs on others. While they may not approve of homosexuality or gay marriage, equally, they do not approve of homophobia, no do they agree the law should discriminate against gay people.”

Asked on whether she plans to support the government’s Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill – which will be voted on by MPs next week. Baroness Warsi replied: “Providing I can get the legal safeguards, which I have been speaking to Maria Miller about, and providing the faith communities are on the right page, and all of that, I will be voting for gay marriage.”

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