When I saw the poster (it used to be opposite but the owner of the image has requested that I remove it – shame really, given that I was supporting the campaign that it was showing) outside Birmingham International station yesterday, I was struck by its confident, bold and unapologetic message.

The posters by Stonewall are part of a campaign that seeks to tackle homophobia in particular, homophobic bullying in our schools. To quote from Stonewall’s Chief Executive, Ben Summerskill:

“Homophobia is almost endemic in our schools and blights the lives of people throughout society. It makes sense that this zero-tolerance message should be extended to the wider public. Across urban and rural Britain, this plain-speaking slogan will remind people that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is no longer acceptable.”

The poster made me reflect upon a campaign run by a Muslim organisation – Islam is Peace – on buses and billboards last year. The message on their posters was:

“Proud to be a British Muslim. IslamIsPeace.org.uk”

What a gulf of difference between the two messages. Far from being the ‘confident, bold and unapologetic’ message of Stonewall, the Muslim message was unsure, timid and overwhelmingly apologetic. Instead of making a statement to tell others that any prejudice or discrimination was their problem, the campaign suggested that it was ours and that we should (politely) ask people not to stereotype, discriminate or dislike all Muslims without differentiation.

Islam is Peace is, to quote Musab Bora’s terminology, a prime example of a Muslim ‘Notinmynameist’. As he writes on his blog, the point is best made by Riazat Butt when she writes that:

“Such kowtowing only confirms that we have something to hide and that we should apologise for being Muslim…”

In the same article, she also writes that:

“I am not a criminal, nor am I likely to commit a criminal act in my lifetime. I am not a terrorist, nor do I support people who commit or incite others to carry out acts of mass murder. I am as likely to die in a terrorist attack as you are. There is no reason for me not be vigilant. But these facts do not convince people who believe that…”

And that really is the crux of the matter. No matter how many times Muslims apologise, you’re not going to convince anyone of anything different. As I wrote in my thesis at Birmingham, repeatedly trying to appease society in phoney and patronising ways, rarely – if indeed ever – achieves its intended outcome.

Coming at this issue from an equalities perspective, it is important that all forms of prejudice and discrimination are tackled head on, whether that’s on the basis of ‘race’, religion, age, gender, sexual orientation or disability. The Equality Act 2006 provides the basic template to begin approaching this even though a lot more is still required if we are going to equate rather than reinforce the hierarchy of discrimination that continues to exist.

With the Equality Act 2006, also came the establishment of the Equalities & Human Right Commission (EHRC). Without any doubt whatsoever, human rights based approaches to equalities is the way forward. For each and every one of us – whether Muslim or not – from a human rights perspective, we all have certain rights and protections that are afforded to us. These rights are:

Inherent (in that they don’t have to be either earned or bought);

Universal and equitable (irrespective of any markers of difference);

Inalienable (in that they cannot be taken away);

And indivisible (so any individual or group may have more than one human right applicable to them at any given time).

And so Muslims please note: first, your rights – not to be discriminated, persecuted, vilified etc – do not have to be earned or bought (whether with apologies or indeed any other form of kowtowing). Second, they are applicable to ALL (including those that many of you dislike or routinely discriminate against – sorry).

Consequently, for all those who discriminate and dislike gays for example, if you want to ‘buy in’ to equality and human rights yourself and benefit from the protection and equality that these afford, then you too have to accept that gays – as well as lesbians and transgendered people; the old, the young and children; women and men; Jews, Christians and atheists including the kuffar and idol worshippers; the paraplegics and the mentally ill; the black, white, Asian and everyone in between – have the same rights as you too. The same rights, quite irrespective of whether you like it or not, agree or disagree.

The message (and lesson) then for society is not that Islam is a religion of peace (no-one believes it or even listens to it anymore – get real) but instead that, ‘Some people are Muslim. Get over it’. Likewise, some people are gay: get over it.

If you can’t, then you could try apologising for another few years to see where that gets you. Better still, just get over it…

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14 thoughts on “‘Some people are gay. Get over it’

  1. Really nice post about equality and acceptance. I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately for a class on Lesbian and Bisexual Lives and have come to realize that the Gay and Lesbian community has exacted their own kind of discrimmination against bisexual and transgendered people. It’s sad really that a discrimminated against minority group could do the same thing to others. I hope one day we can really all not care how different we are and co-exist happily.

    Peace,
    Marissa

  2. Hi Marissa – thanks for your comments.

    Intra-discrimination and intra-prejudice within minority groups is a really serious issue but one that tends to go ‘under the radar’, largely because it goes against all the things that many of these groups campaign for.

    Fully behind you with your suggestion about happily co-existing.

    Chris

  3. People can have whatever depraved hobbies they want. I wish they’d stop trying to force the rest of us to approve.

  4. Nice one Steve…sounds like you’re over-compensating a bit there to me though. Nonetheless, glad to see that the piece got you thinking (and raging…!!!).

    I’m not forcing anything on you…just recognising that people are different. I, like you, can have an opinion and my opinion is that people like you, who can’t accept other people’s differences, have a problem with it. The question for me, is why do you have such a problem with something that is clearly not being forced upon you?

    As I say, you don’t have to agree or disagree, just accept that ALL PEOPLE – irrespective of their differences (including you Steve !!!) – have the same rights. If you have a problem with that being forced on you – that everyone is equal and that everyone has the same rights – then that’s the beauty of being British and living in a country where we cherish diversity – that’s what freedom and democracy is all about, isn’t it??? And that by the way, is why equality is protected by law so “The same rights, quite irrespective of whether you like it or not, agree or disagree” apply.

    So as the piece says Steve (if that’s your real name as your e-mail address is something else…!!!) get over it my friend, get over it !!!

    In the words of the Archbishop, when the “inevitable” happens and Shariah law comes to Britain, no doubt you’ll have something else to moan about…!!!

    Hope you take my comments in the spirit they were made Steve, namely with tongue placed firmly in cheek…

  5. Pingback: Islamify.com
  6. saw the quote on T shirts in the Attitude magazine. was so struck by it must have one am really excited.

    where can I order one?

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