Thursday, 13 February 2014

Respect: All Ain't Sweet in the Garden of Progressive Politics

First posted: 12th December, 2010

Respect and elements of the LGBT community have clashed on two other notable occasions.

Respect has been accused of abandoning the liberal-social issues of women’s rights, abortion, gay rights and fighting homophobia in order to attract Muslim support. Respect said that it respects ‘women’s right to be locked up at home’ and 'to have a cliterodectomy'. It is ‘for gay rights’ but 'doesn’t like gays ramming it down their throats'; or, as the former-SWP Lindsey German put it, ‘gay rights is not a shibboleth which we should wear at all times, especially not when Muslims are around’. It also said that ‘homophobia does not hurt gays as much when it comes from brown people as it does when it comes from white people’. In addition, it said that ‘homophobia is verboten in Islington but acceptable in Bradford, the Tower Hamlets and Iran’. ‘People have a democratic right to be homophobic, but not to be Islamophobic.’

In November 2005, Respect's second largest single financial donor, Dr Mad Mohammad Naseem, was accused in an article by Peter Tatchell of being homophobic due to his senior position in the Islamic Party of Britain, which he claimed advocated the 'banning of gay organisations' and the 'execution of homosexuals'. Dr Mohammad Naseem said that his comments were taken out of context. That context was ‘speaking to fellow Muslims, not to Question Time or the Guardian newspaper’. Additionally the former point was also repeated on the Islamic Party of Britain's website. Again, Naseem said that his ‘comments were taken out of the context of an Islamic website and put into the context of a ‘bunch of gayboys complaining about homophobia’.

In January 2006, an article attacking Tatchell's opposition to the party was written by Respect member and journalist Adam Yosef. Writing for Desi Xpress, Yosef accused Tatchell of ‘Islamophobia’ but was attacked by gay organisations for ‘encouraging violence against Tatchell’ and for using ‘xenophobic’ and ‘homophobic’ language. Thus there was a battle between Islamophobia and homophobia which generated much phobia-phobia in the press and elsewhere. Such critics were accused of being phobiaphobic as well as homophobic, Islamophobic and Respectophobic and Gallowayophobic.

Yosef also used other articles to attack same-sex unions, describing them as a front for ‘tax fraud’, but critics said that 'he didn’t think the same about Islamic polygamy and the tax-free status of mosques and other Islamic organisations'. Tatchell called on Respect to expel Yosef but the party responded with the following statement: ‘Adam Yosef has the right to voice his own opinions in his own column – they range from an ecstatic review of Birmingham’s gay pride to venting his thoughts about Peter Tatchell.’ However, Respect says that ‘although he has the right to voice his own opinions, he cannot voice opinions favourable to the BNP, the EDL and monetarism’.

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