A senior Muslim leader in Australia has said that gay teachers are “afflicted with abnormal practices that contradict nature.”
Sheik Taj El-Din Hilaly, a former Grand Mufti of Australia, said in an interview to The Australian newspaper published on Monday (October 15) that teachers should “not impose their lifestyle on the rest of society, especially schools which are supposed to provide an environment of learning and culture and not a club for those seeking to satisfy their desires.”
The cleric, who has made numerous controversial comments about women, Jews and the 9/11 terror attacks, made his latest remarks after Prime Minister Scott Morrison backed away from a government review which said faith schools should have the right to discriminate against LGBT+ students and opposition leader Bill Shorten called for protections against queer teachers being fired.
Speaking through a translator to the publication, Hilaly said: “We are a free democratic society that believes in diversity and human rights and we reject constrictions on the rights of others even if they are afflicted with abnormal practices that contradict nature.
“In such cases, we must respect their humanity and deal with the issue as a mental illness that requires care and treatment.”
Hilaly left the role of Grand Mufti—Australia’s most senior Muslim cleric, chosen by a group of 18 members of the Australian National Imams Council (ANIC)—in 2007 after nearly two decades punctuated by controversial statements, which included accusing Jews of “causing all wars,” calling the Holocaust a “Zionist lie” and saying 9/11 was “God’s work.”
He also blamed women without a hijab who are sexually assaulted, saying: “If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?
“The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.”
The cleric was symbolically reinstated as Grand Mufti last month by a group of imams in Brisbane, but the ANIC issued a statement on the same day which emphasised it was “the ONLY official body that elects the Grand Mufti of Australia.
“The current Grand Mufti of Australia is his Eminence Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammad,” the statement continued. “Any other announcement of a new Grand Mufti of Australia is void and unjustified.”
After a backlash to the government review last week, the Prime Minister said his administration would reassess the Sex Discrimination Act and remove the power for any school to exclude students based on their sexuality.
Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull created the ‘religious freedom’ review, which was headed by former Liberal frontbencher and anti-LGBT politician Philip Ruddock, in an attempt to appease anti-gay conservatives in his party.