London Mayoral candidate Sadiq Khan has responded to a string of attacks attempting to link him to Muslim extremists – by citing his record on LGBT equality.
Mr Khan is currently the Labour MP for Tooting, and has unwaveringly voted for LGBT equality in Parliament since he was first elected in 2005 – making him one of the first Muslim lawmakers to do so.
Speaking on LBC this week, he responded to newspaper stories cited by Tory Defence Minister Michael Fallon – who claims Mr Khan is “unfit” to be Mayor because of alleged links to hardline Muslims.
Mr Khan was asked about sharing a platform with former Imam Suliman Gani – who has called for an Islamic state and rallied against Western ideals.
The Labour politician noted his own record on LGBT equality was frequently attacked by such people, adding: “This gentleman [Gani] was very unhappy I voted for same-sex marriage.
“I’m not sure what these suggestions are. Let’s be quite clear – I’m the only candidate with a plan to address the issue of extremism and radicalisation.
“I’m also somebody who feels very passionately that it’s possible to be a Londoner and to be of Islamic faith.
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“I feel strongly it’s important to celebrate the diversity of London.”
A spokesman for Mr Khan added: “Sadiq has consistently spoken out against extremism and terrorism. He’s suffered death threats and constant abuse from Muslim extremists throughout his life because of his mainstream views.
“Attacks like this on mainstream Muslims like Sadiq only make it harder for us to fight extremists, put an end to radicalisation and beat the terrorists.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Khan labelled attempts to question his record because of comments made by his Twitter followers as “desperate”.
He said: “I don’t check everyone who I follow… I think it is a bit desperate to attack somebody who follows me on Twitter, or to attack me because I follow somebody, or to attack me because of my ex-brother in law who I’ve not seen for 12 years, or to attack me for sharing a platform when government ministers shared the same platform with the same people.
“For goodness sake, let’s have a campaign that is positive.”
In a PinkNews interview earlier this year, Mr Khan pledged his support for LGBT Londoners and said he would work to tackle homophobia across communities.
He said: “Hate crime is personal to me. I’ve been the victim of hate crime – anybody who is a minority is potentially the victim of hate crime.
“Whether you’re an ethnic minority, you’re lesbian gay, trans, religious minority, a woman, disabled, to me it’s personal because I have been on the receiving end.
“The philosophy I have is this: one of the great things about London, the rich tapestry of the city, the diversity is what makes it so wonderful. But actually things aren’t perfect and could be better.