Islamic extremist threat to gays

August 16, 1996

Fundamentalist Islamic groups pose the most serious threat to the safety of gay and lesbian staff and students on university and college campuses in Britain, a report says.

Fighting Extremist Homophobia, prepared by the National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education, names Islamic extremist group Hizb ut Tahrir as "overwhelmingly" the biggest concern during 1995.

The union initiated the report after 71 per cent of calls to the Campus Watch phone line reported homophobic activity by Islamic extremists, mainly Hizb ut Tahrir. The National Union of Students together with the Union of Jewish Students and Searchlight magazine set up the line in 1994 to monitor fascism. Hizb ut Tahrir is vehemently opposed to homosexuals but Peter Purton, author of the report, writes that the group is "in equal measure anti-democratic, anti-Semetic, anti-Hindu, anti-feminist and homophobic". The group's campaigns involve distribution of homophobic material, particularly at gay and lesbian society meetings, and harassment of individuals.

The report states that while the right to free speech is essential, it does not include the "right" to make propaganda which incites violence.

Natfhe's policies, which oppose homophobia, sexism and racism, mean that it is appropriate to prevent the activities of extremist groups and exclude them from institutions if they persist, Mr Purton writes.

The NUS earlier this year banned Hizb ut Tahrir and other extremists from campuses and prevented them from holding office. At institutions where the student union has adopted NUS policy, the report urges Natfhe branches to back the ban on groups involved in homophobic and other oppressive activities.

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