Defend the Rights of LGBT, Apostates and Blasphemers with CEMB at Pride in London

pride, london, cemb, council of ex-muslims of britain, maryan namazie, jimmy bangash, lgbt, islam, ex-muslims
Image: PinkNews

After defending itself from a baseless charge of Islamophobia by East London Mosque, CEMB will be marching again at Pride London this year, fighting for the rights of LGBT people and non-believers.

Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain (CEMB) will be marching at Pride London on Saturday 7 July 2018 for the rights of LGBT persons in countries under Islamic rule; in 15 countries or territories, homosexuality is punishable with the death penalty. Many of the same states punish apostasy and blasphemy with death. Clearly, the lives and rights of apostates and LGBT are intertwined.

Absurdly, and until recently, CEMB was left uncertain as to whether they would be permitted to march after accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ by the homophobic East London Mosque against CEMB, who took issue with some of the placards. However, Jimmy Bangash, the new Spokesperson for CEMB explained the rationale and necessity for  those ‘controversial’ placards, and why CEMB must march for LGBT rights in this Bread and Roses TV interview and pushed back against the the East London Mosque’s charges of ‘Islamophobia’. The incident perfectly illustrated how groups like CEMB suffer constant accusations of being against the religion, when in fact the core of the issue is the protection of oppressed minorities. After 8 months, Pride finally met with CEMB and gave them the go ahead to march.

pride, london, cemb, council of ex-muslims of britain, maryan namazie, jimmy bangash, lgbt, islam, ex-muslims
Jimmy Bangash, speaking at a conference.

And march we will.

In a piece published in sister-hood yesterday, CEMB Spokesperson Maryam Namazie explains why accusations of ‘Islamophobia’ are used to defend religious privilege and impose de facto blasphemy laws where none exist. She says:

“The charge of ‘Islamophobia’ protects religion and the religious Right, not believers. There is a clear difference between the term xenophobia, for example, which describes how migrants are targeted by bigotry, or homophobia, where people are targeted for their sexuality, versus Islamophobia, which describes the criticism of an idea. Religion is an idea; Islamism and the religious Right are political movements. They must be open to criticism.”

pride, london, cemb, council of ex-muslims of britain, maryan namazie, jimmy bangash, lgbt, islam, ex-muslims
Maryam Namazie

Pragna Patel, Director of Southall Black Sisters says:

“SBS fully supports the right of CEMB to be at the Pride march. In the face of rising intolerance and hatred promoted by the self-styled and Islamist linked East London Mosque and its cohorts, it is vital that Pride remains a safe and progressive space for those who are the first targets of hatred and violence. The presence of CEMB in such demonstrations is vital in exposing the agendas of those like the East London Mosque that claim to support LBGT rights whilst silencing and going after those deemed to be apostates, blasphemers and dissenters from within. Solidarity in the face of violence, intimidation and censorship is the only weapon we have to defeat these forces of darkness.“

Human Rights Campaigner Peter Tatchell, who reiterated his support for CEMB last year as well, says:

“I welcome CEMB to the London LGBT+ Pride parade. They are doing important, fearless work exposing Islamist countries that have the death penalty not only for LGBT+ people, but also for Muslims who leave the faith, women who have sex outside of marriage and those who dissent from Islamic orthodoxy. CEMB is a much valued ally of the LGBT+ community and of all progressive people everywhere.”

Gita Sahgal, Director of Centre for Secular Space says:

“I am proud to march with CEMB at Pride for the second time. Our presence on the parade is a victory against Islamist attempts to silence us. The right to apostasy and the right to sexual freedom are closely connected. As we celebrate at Pride in London, we march in solidarity with all those threatened with death for their beliefs and their loves.  Fundamentalist mosques like East London Mosque and organisations like MEND have failed to condemn laws criminalising apostasy and same sex relationships. They are silent on the killing of homosexuals and apostates in the name of Islam; and instead create a climate of fear and threat for campaigners. Why else do so many gay Muslims live in hiding? We urge all who support these twin freedoms, and who stand with migrants and refugees fleeing for their lives, to stand with us.”

The issue of how and why LGBT rights are inextricably and inevitably connected to the rights of apostates and non-believers was also expounded upon in more detail in a panel discussion on LGBT rights, Apostasy and Blasphemy at Pride Festival, chaired by Gita Sahgal of Centre for Secular Space. Panellists were Jimmy Bangash; Matthew Mahmood-Ogston, Founder & Trustee of Naz and Matt Foundation; Sadia Hameed, CEMB Spokesperson and Syed Isteak Hossain Shawon, LGBT activist from Bangladesh and Editor of Boys Love World.

Muslims and ex-Muslims united in the fight to protect and save the lives of LGBT, apostates and blasphemers are welcome to join us at Pride to highlight the persecution of LGBT and apostates and defend the right to love, think and live as one chooses. We stand and fight together for common humanity and universal human rights.

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