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Labour MP for Poplar & Limehouse Jim Fitzpatrick says that gay people have the same rights in the community as anyone else

PUBLISHED: 13:38 10 July 2013 | UPDATED: 13:38 10 July 2013

Archant

I always receive communications both for and against policy proposals. A number I received against same-sex marriage from my Muslim constituents contained wording that gave me much to think about.

Correspondents wrote of ‘our community’ and ‘my community’. I was not sure whether they were referring to the whole local community of which they belonged – inclusive of Muslims, non-Muslims, Christians, people of other religions and no religion, various cultures, and so on and so forth; or whether they were referring solely to the Muslim community. If the former, then based on the letters/emails I have received recently and in the past, they were not speaking for one and all; if the latter, then I would say exactly the same.

Not all Muslims feel the same way on this issue, and what worries me is that those who are either for same-sex marriage, or maybe just thinking it over for themselves, are not included in the community to which the correspondents referred. Something that backs up my concern is the fact that gay Muslim men and women who have contacted me in support of same-sex marriage and other gay rights issues have told me of their hidden sexuality, their fear of what would happen to them if they ‘came out’ to their family, friends and neighbours, their misery at the prospect of living a lie.

I found myself thinking – if these gay Muslim men and women are ostracised, or will be ostracised if they ‘come out’, what is and who is ‘the community’?

Other phrases used by those against same-sex marriage have included “we voted for you”, along with “I hope you will vote in line with our views” and “we will not forget how you vote”. Once again, I would ask who are ‘we’? What is meant by ‘our’ and ‘us’?

In voting for same-sex marriage, I know I am not in line with everyone’s view – an impossibility; but I hope my contribution to this debate at least enables us to begin to discuss issues of gay rights in general, including same-sex marriage, and also the right of gay people to be accepted and to feel secure in their own place within a community that is as much theirs as anyone’s.

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