GAY Muslims took to the streets of east London yesterday to launch a new campaign calling for unity between LGBT and Muslim communities.
A group of activists stood outside Whitechapel station — an area with one of Britain’s largest Muslim populations — in an attempt to “build bridges” between the two groups.
Campaigners told the Star their traumatic experiences in seeking acceptance from their families.
Others held signs stating: “Gays and Muslims unite. Love all not hate.”
Event organiser Peter Tatchell said gay Muslims had contacted him about the campaign in a bid to open up discussions with locals who may be homophobic.
He told the Star that the campaign attracted “mixed responses” but that the activists prefer to have open discussions rather than keeping them “behind closed doors.”
A Muslim man aged around 50 stopped to talk to the campaigners and it soon turned into a heated debate.
He told campaigners: “If I am a Muslim, it does not mean that I hate gay people. Many Muslims do not approve of homosexuality but we would not hate them.”
The 23-year-old physics student grew up in a ‘radical Islamist family’ in London
His Pakistan-born parents taught him that gay people are “disgusting and evil” and should be killed.
He has not spoken to his parents or his four younger siblings for around 10 months after they discovered that he was gay last year and put him through “exorcisms.”
The street campaign is “absolutely important” to him as there is Islamophobia within some LGBT communities and also homophobia among some Muslims. Racism is another negative factor.
He said: “In order for us to deal with these three weak points, we need to stand together to fight bigotry and hatred by having open discussions in a civilised manner.”
Mr Ahmed, who prays daily and fasts at Ramadan, said that he considered himself an atheist before reading works by progressive Muslims and now refers to himself as an “agnostic Muslim.”
Took part in the street campaign in memory of his fiance Naz, who killed himself two days after his strictly religious family confronted him about his sexuality.
Dr Naz Mahmood, a successful owner of three clinics, ended his life last year aged 34 after telling his mother that he was gay and planned to marry after being in a relationship for 13 years. She told him to find a“cure” for his sexuality.
Mr Mahmood-Ogston told the Star: “We want to build bridges between two groups that are considered to be diametrically opposed.
“Some people feel that you cannot be Muslim and gay. You cannot choose to be gay or not because I believe gay people are born gay.”