Britain’s most powerful Muslim organisation was accused last night of a making a stunning U-turn on a commitment to tackle homophobia. Just days after the Muslim Council of Britain signalled it was planning to sign up to a five-year plan to reach out to Britain’s gay community, senior members of the organisation have ripped up the strategy.
Mohammed Aziz, its policy adviser, had been quoted as saying he believed the organisation would take great steps in the coming months to shed its homophobic image. The plan was discussed at the government’s Equality and Diversity Forum in January and debated by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Equalities.
‘We have brought about a lot of change from five years ago when the MCB was behind issues such as section 28, and against gay adoption,’ Aziz is reported to have said. ‘The first part of the strategy was to tell the MCB “if you have nothing positive to say, keep your mouth shut”. Most of the negative statements now date back to 1999.’
The plan was hailed as a breakthrough by gay rights campaigners and a sign the organisation was looking to distance itself from comments made earlier this year by its secretary general, Sir Iqbal Sacranie, who described homosexuals as ‘harmful, immoral, unacceptable and diseased’.
But it has emerged that the council has rejected Aziz’s claims. Inayat Bunglawala, its spokesman, insisted Aziz’s views did not represent those of the MCB. He told the Islam TV Channel: ‘There is no truth in these quotes. Our position is very clear, our Secretary General was nearly prosecuted for this because we maintain that homosexual relationships are sinful in Islam.’
Aziz declined to comment, telling The Observer that the MCB’s attempts to distance itself from his comments was a ‘matter for the MCB’.