While political leaders in Australia and New Zealand post the Christchurch massacre have embraced Islam as compatible with western values and sidelined its problems, a community in the western world that Islam continues to clash with is LGBT people.
We have been reminded of Islam’s intolerance of the LGBT lifestyle with the reaction of local Muslim parents at Parkfield Community School in the English city of Birmingham have been protesting about a pro-LGBT education program at the school called the No Outsiders project.
The city which has a Muslim population of over 20% has seen nine days of protests which began in January from Muslim parents who have said the program is “undermining parental rights and authority” and called the lessons “toxic” and “disgusting”
Because of the aggressive nature of Muslim parents to this LGBT school program members of Birmingham’s LGBT community at a meeting in the local gay district said they felt increasingly threatened, anxious and frightened. This increased feeling of vulnerability was backed up by a recorded rise in hate crimes in the city.
In Australia we have seen when Christian parents objected to the LGBT Safe Schools program progressive they were labelled ‘bigots’ and ‘homophobes’ and they were accused of harming vulnerable LGBT youth.
But because Muslims are for now another minority group in the UK excuses have been made by local LGBT activists for their intolerance of the LGBT lifestyle. Ann Sawyer from the Supporting Education of Equality and Diversity in Schools (SEEDS) campaign said “Hate comes from ignorance and we’ve been trying to dispel that ignorance by sharing our lives.”
Another SEEDS member Saima Razzaq warned against demonizing Islam “Clearly there were bigots, but it’s pitting two marginalised communities against each other,” and said “Conversations are just starting, it’s going to take many years.”
But opposition to LGBT lifestyle education is nothing compared to the Nation of Brunei’s new law which will punish homosexuality with death by stoning. The new laws against homosexuality are part of the nation’s further implementation of sharia law where adultery and rape will also be punished by death by stoning.
The new law has provoked much international outrage with actor George Clooney calling for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels. New Zealand’s Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters said ‘We are also deeply concerned at the use of punishments that are cruel, inhuman or degrading’. The United Nations Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet called them ‘cruel and inhuman’ laws.
In Australia so far only Labor’s Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong has condemned the new laws stating “Labor is deeply concerned by the Brunei government’s plans to implement new laws that would see adultery and homosexual acts between consenting adults punishable by death”.
The US State Department issued a statement that it was “concerned with Brunei’s decision to implement Phases Two and Three of the Sharia Penal Code. Some of the punishments in the law appear inconsistent with international human rights obligations”.
This statement from a department of the Trump Administration was criticized by LGBT groups for not condemning Brunei’s anti-gay laws strongly enough. This was a month after they criticized the Trump Administration’s new campaign to have homosexuality decriminalized worldwide as racist.
The reason why various progressives have criticized Brunei for these laws rather than the other nine nations with the death penalty for homosexuality is because the nation is an easy target with a population of only 400,000. Larger Muslim nations practicing sharia law such as Saudi Arabia always escape criticism for such persecution of LGBT people.
Progressives and LGBT groups should also remember that the largest and most deadly hate crime against LGBT people in the West was the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting in Florida in 2016 where Muslim Omar Mateen murdered 49 people. An almost incidental death toll to the Christchurch mosque shooting.
The Pulse shooting saw then candidate Trump rightly point out the incompatibility of Islam with LGBT life and campaigned on a platform of protecting LGBT people from violence. In his nomination acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention he stated “As your President, I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBT citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology”.
It is important to still be aware post-Christchurch of Islam’s incompatibility with key western liberal values, and not excuse it but instead challenge it. Islam is unlikely to repay many western leaders new found tolerance of them with tolerance of others.