So where has it all gone so terribly wrong? Why have two minorities that should be natural allies so fundamentally moved in different directions? What am I talking about? Muslims and the Lesbian/Bi/Gay and Trans communities.
I remember marching in anti-Nazi Party rallies and in calling for racial equality in the capital in the 1980’s and 1990’s with fellow marchers who were gay and bisexual and I used to leave with a feeling that London was the most varied and the most exciting city on earth. One where you could find anyone, from the farthest countries of the globe and from any background, and get along with them. We still had a lot to do in those bad old days, but there was no mistaking the warmth between us. Not only was there a common bond in being seen as different, I also felt secure and safe that those from the Lesbian/Bi/Gay and Trans communities would understand some of the prejudice that is thrown against minority groups – which is still taking place now against migrant groups. You see, there was a natural alliance, a common bond, between my fellow campaigners and I. They were also fighting for my rights as a British Muslim of East African and Pakistani heritage.
This common bond has rapidly deteriorated with those crude separationists and religious zealots who have done much to damage relations between all communities. Christian, Jewish and Muslim fundamentalists alike have attacked the personal choice of individuals which frankly has nothing to do with them. I say that and shout out loud about it since my beliefs as a Muslim do not mean that I should denigrate or attack another group of people. That is not what Islam is about and it certainly isn’t what London is about.
Moderate British Muslims get shouldered with a lot of responsibility – do more, stand up to the fanatics. No rest for them from me, for this is one more issue we need to take a stand on! Enough is enough. No more perverse and farcical attacks on the Lesbian/Bi/Gay and Trans communities. To each their own and live and let live. And I would go further than that and say, I reach out to those from both communities and ask whether we can march again. We never dreamed ten and twenty years ago that our communities would be split but that is what has happened and we need to arrest it and reassert our natural alliance. That is what Islam has taught me, respect for the individual and the respect for human life, not anger, intolerance and the rocky road that leads to stigmatisation.