Recently a planned discussion of Islam and homosexuality on the BBC3 Free Speech(!) programme was postponed because of objections made by Birmingham Central Mosque where the programme was filmed.
Now the mosque’s chairman, Dr Mohammad Naseem, has explained his position. In a letter sent to the Huffington Post he asserted that the Muslim drag queen featured on the programme had a poor grasp of his religion:
“He would have, otherwise, known that it is prohibited in Islam. If he wants to persue [sic] his inclination then he is free to leave Islam and follow any ideology that suits him,” Naseem continued.
Some Muslims would agree that homosexuality is a sin in Islam while still supporting civil rights for all. But Naseem does not appear to fit into this category. He insists that homosexual acts, like murder, cannot be tolerated by society and must be punished firmly by the law.
“Human beings do have weaknesses and tendencies which are not socially acceptable and so they try to have a control over them and do not give in.
“A compulsive murderer, gambler, paedophile etc. could present the same logic and ask for accommodation by the society. Are we going to accept on the basis of freedom of action?”
He notes approvingly:
“There are people with homosexual tendency in Muslim countries but they respect the law and control their desire as others do.
If this is Naseem’s ideal, it’s unclear quite what he means by this:
“Not being able to accept them in religion should not be confused with denying them their human rights such as their right to have education, employment, housing and respect.”
Is he referring to homosexuals in relationships or simply to those with ‘tendencies’. If the latter – that’s hardly a great concession. Going back to Naseem’s observation that the drag queen Lahore was free to subscribe to another ideology if he wanted to pursue a lifestyle incompatible with Islam – that is true in this country, but not in those Muslim countries (held up as the ideal by Naseem) where apostasy and homosexuality are proscribed. Naseem’s rhetoric – ‘human rights’, ‘respect’ – has a liberal veneer, but his views are thoroughly illiberal and will, I trust, be countered robustly when the postponed ‘Free Speech’ debate on Islam and homosexuality is broadcast later this month.