Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sharia - don’t like it

So, according to the ridiculous Islmophobia-Watch blog, the gay human rights group OutRage! (of which regular readers know I’m a member) is in the same category as the BNP because, we oppose sharia law.

They have made the same charge against The Worker-Communist Party of Iran, who we can safely assume know a thing or two more about sharia law than Mr Bob Pitt of London, the proprietor of the blog.

Now, I think there is a great need for a blog monitoring Islamophobia. Sure, it is a flawed term since it can too easily conflate an antipathy towards Islam as a religion with discrimination against, and demonising of, religious people or communities – and indeed – be used as a proxy for racism (as it clearly is by the likes of the BNP). But, when it is used as a proxy for racism, and when it demonises people rather than ideas, it should be denounced. That is the real “Islamophobia” – good old-fashioned racism – not the bogus kind where women, gays, secularists and others complain of the oppressive forces of religion. Alas, Pitt and friends appear to wilfully ignore the difference and thereby collude with religious oppression.

Lesbian and gay people have a very good reason to fear and hate sharia law. It criminalises us and threatens us with very harsh punishments.

So, I asked Bob Pitt if he agreed with this estimation. He replied:

“As with adultery, I think it's not homosexuality as such that's an offence but the sexual act itself. And you need four independent witnesses for a conviction. The evidentiary requirements for offences meriting so-called hudud punishments are set so high that these punishments are in practice inapplicable.”

That’s a great comfort, Bob.

I could suggest that he’s “in a bloc” with the crackpot religious-right in America, the Catholic Church and ‘Christian Voice’ because he appears to differentiate between “homosexuality” and “the sexual act” – as if heterosexuality and the heterosexual “sex act” could be separated. Can you imagine if every heterosexual on the planet were forced under pain of death to be celibate? How would that work? It doesn’t even appear to work for those few (like Catholic clergy) who choose to give it a go. Why does Pitt appear to think that gays and lesbians can live under those conditions?

“Don’t worry, it’s okay to be gay or lesbian under sharia law – as long as you don’t have sex,” appears to be the subtext of his argument.

Furthermore, what a law says on paper and how it is actually practiced are quite different. An Iranian acquaintance of mine tells me that this “four witnesses” requirement is often waived if the accuser is the head of the household (a father, for example) or a Mullah. But I don’t even want to get into this because it is largely irrelevant. The law is there to suppress lesbian and gay people, and those who are discovered can be punished, often lashed or stoned, sometimes to death.

Surely Pitt and his Islamophobia-Watch crew know and understand this. How can they expect a gay human rights group NOT to oppose sharia law – a law which criminalises, menaces and – too often – kills our kind?

And if they understand this, why the snide and slanderous suggestion that we’re in league with the BNP or other right wing fascists?

Lesbian and gay people have a right to stand up to the forces and laws that oppress and threaten us. By seeking to oppose and challenge legal systems that persecute us, we are not in league with Nazis – in fact, quite the opposite.

Islamophobia-Watch’s childish slurs could quite easily be answered by asking a similar question. The BNP are viciously homophobic, but so are the sharia-promoting Islamic Party of Britain. Since Pitt and crew are so astonished that a gay human rights group would oppose sharia law, will they be launching “a joint campaign” with these groups sometime soon to counter gay equality?


At 6:21 pm, Blogger PoliticalHack said...

Nothing odd there - extremists at either end of the spectrum often share the most charming views.


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