Every year London hosts a gay pride parade to support the LBGT community. This year, Pride falls during Ramadan. As a gesture of inclusion, the gay community will host a “big gay iftar” dinner to bring the Muslim and LGBT communities together.
However some Muslim groups vocally oppose such an event, even going so far as to blame the Jews.
Last year such an iftar was held in the wake of the Orlando terrorist attack in which 49 people killed in a nightclub in Florida. Last year’s organizer, Mas, told Channel Four TV:
“It’s hard enough being religious person and LBGT. Orlando’s not changed my attitude. I think more than anything it has changed people’s attitude towards me. And I think that’s the biggest change.”
This year’s event will be much larger. Hosted at St Andrew’s Church in Southwark on June 24, it will be an official part of the two weeks of events leading up to the pride parade on July 8.
Pride organizers said the event would be a chance “to talk to one another, learn about each others’ faiths, cultures and sexualities and spread some love.”
The event provoked backlash from some sections of the Muslim community. The Facebook page ‘London Muslims,’ which has over 380,000 likes, posted an angry rebuttal comparing a gay iftar to a “pork iftar.”
Following a storm of comments organized by gay-rights activists, London Muslims deleted the post, but not before it had been ‘screenshotted’ and widely shared.
The inclusion of the hadith referencing Christians and Jews is very puzzling, especially since both Christianity and Judaism are also theologically opposed to homosexuality. In 2015, a Jewish extremist, Yishai Schlissel, went on a stabbing rampage at the Jerusalem gay pride parade. He killed 16 year old Shira Banki and wounded several others.
Nevertheless, such events are rare. Homosexuality is legal in the Christian majority countries of the West and in the Jewish State of Israel. Pride events are held regularly and bigotry against gay people is forbidden by law.
By contrast, of the 10 countries where homosexuality carries the death penalty, nine are Muslim. The tenth, Nigeria, is half Muslim half Christian.
“Idealising sharia law living in Britain is hypocritical,” Harry Qasimali, a gay rights activist himself of Muslim background told Clarion Project. “Instigating an iftar during Ramadan to bring together Muslims and the LGBT community is a progressive step forward. Islam has been around for centuries and so have the gays, we can’t continue ignoring and fearing this reality.”
Of course there are many Muslims in the UK who utterly reject this hateful attitude towards homosexuality. The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is a Muslim and last year led the pride parade in London, alondside the US Ambassador Matthew Barzun, who marched in solidarity with the Orlando victims.
If religious people are theologically opposed to homosexuality they are under no obligation to attend the iftar. Stirring up hatred against it, especially given the track record of persecution against gay people in states such as Saudi Arabia where sharia is implemented as state law, is unacceptable in a modern diverse country.