Rainbow Hamlets criticises East London Mosque for defending 'homophobe'
PUBLISHED: 10:33 29 January 2014 | UPDATED: 10:33 29 January 2014
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EXCLUSIVE: A gay rights group has criticised the East London Mosque for defending a "homophobe" who declared gay people should be severely punished under Islamic law.
Rainbow Hamlets said the mosque’s decision to stand by Ibrahim Hewitt means it “does not understand what homophobia is or how it is spread”.
Two weeks ago the charity Oxfam pulled an event at the mosque’s London Muslim Centre over headline speaker Hewitt’s homophobic writings.
The mosque defended Mr Hewitt, saying he was not homophobic and it would work with him again.
Yesterday, Rainbow Hamlets chair Jack Gilbert offered to engage with the mosque to teach its leaders about homophobia, and called for all partners in the council’s No Place for Hate forum to reject Hewitt’s views.
He said: “Homophobia is about hatred and the spreading of myths and slurs which dehumanise and demean.”
Referring to Mr Hewitt’s book, he said: “We do not believe lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people are ‘slaves to their lusts, devoid of decent tastes, morals or lifestyle’.
“We do not believe LGBT people should ever be murdered for who they are, whether here or overseas.”
“We do not believe such ideas require any equivocation – all partners should reject them out of hand without exception.”
Mr Gilbert, who has worked with the mosque in the past, called for open dialogue to “learn from this situation and work together to build a world free of hatred and persecution”.
A mosque spokesman, responding to Rainbow Hamlets, said: “The East London Mosque and London Muslim Centre will continue dialogue with partners through Tower Hamlets’ No Place for Hate forum, with the objective to better understand all forms of hatred and work towards eradicating hatred from our society.”
He added: “There are topics that will challenge various communities and we will face them with sensitivity, respect and continuous learning.”