Article
Written by Student Rights on 19 February 2013 at 5pm

Huffington Post UK: Manchester Student Newspaper The Mancunion In Row Over Secret 'Homophobic' Video Recording Of Society Meeting

By Lucy Sherriff

19th February 2013

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A student paper is at the centre of a row over ethical standards after publishing a secret recording of what appears to be homophobic comments made by a student society member.

The Mancunion student newspaper has been criticised by both Manchester University's Student Union (MUSU) and the chair of the global aspirations of women's society, whose meeting was 'covertly' filmed.

The student paper published extracts from a recording made by first year student Colin Cortbus, who attended the society's public meeting on Wednesday.

The Middle Eastern studies undergraduate asked a member of the society whether, “in the Islamic society in which you strive for,” they would “feel comfortable, personally and morally, to kill a gay man".

According to the Mancunion, a female student replied: "Absolutely," and described homosexuality as an "atrocity," because it goes against what God says".

The student was also asked if she, in her "ideal" Islamic state, would feel confident to kill a man if he "did something as com­pletely innocent as kiss another man outside the Students’ Union," to which she reportedly replied: "Yeah, abso­lutely. But it’s the fact that you can’t just see it as it is. People have this issue that the punishment, penal code, everything is so completely inhumane, but who even says that these things are inhumane?”

In response to the article, the society published a lengthy statement on its Facebook page, part of which read:

"We would like to begin by expression my concerns regarding the under hand tactics employed by yourself (The Mancunion) as a means to get a scoop for your newspaper.

"You failed to put our discussion into perspective for the aims of global aspirations of women's society endeavours to discuss the plight of women here at home and globally and looks to political alternatives to end oppression, subjugation and the dishonour of women and hence includes Islam as in the debate along with secular/ liberal systems as an alternative.

"When we look at the discontent in which people are living in this society as well as the widespread chaos all we seek to do is to simply raise discussions as to the nature of these problems and how islam as an ideology (in its true form and not what is currently available in the Muslim world as they defiantly [sic] do not represent Islam and its tenants) as an alternative.

"The fact that you have pin pointed only the discussion on the punishment system in Islam shows that you are ignorant of Islam as a political system, and hence decided to play the media rhetoric of Islam equates to harsh punishments and lack of humanity."

Cat Gray, the MUSU's wellbeing officer said: "We are deeply concerned with the covert filming of a student event within the Union. We are also deeply concerned by the suggestion that comments of a homophobic nature have been made.

"The Union operates a safe space policy where students should not be subject to any form of intimidation or discrimination. We encourage students who wish to report incidents which have made them feel unsafe to contact any member of the Exec Team."

A description of the society on MUSU's website reads: "[Our purpose is] To highlight the universal aspirations of women and create discussions on campus as to what these are and what can be done about it. As well as creating an environment in which students can come together and discuss concerns."

Raheem Kassam, director of Student Rights, the group which published the footage on YouTube, added:"What this video shows is the shockingly intolerant attitudes perpetuated by a minority of extremists on British university campuses.

"That young people studying in diverse environments can host and endorse messages of hatred and violence such as the one displayed here is cause for great concern and we hope the authorities at the University of Manchester will be investigating this incident in a swift and transparent manner".

Manchester University refused to comment on the incident, saying it was a student union matter. The Mancunion has been contacted for comment but has not yet responded.