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Written by Student Rights on 27 March 2014 at 4pm

Homophobic speakers invited to the University of Westminster

This afternoon students at the University of Westminster had booked Murtaza Khan to speak at the Islamic Society Annual Dinner ‘The Day of Judgement’.

 Khan has a history of encouraging communal division, declaring of non-Muslims “people are still not waking up to understand the fact that these people are enemies towards us”, and asking in 2007 “for how long do we have to see our mothers, sisters and daughters having to uncover themselves before these filthy non-Muslim doctors?

However, it is his views on homosexuality which are the most worrying, including his claim that it is an “abominable action which goes against humanity” and that it should be punished with death. 

That students should invite such a speaker given the hurt it would likely cause to LGBT groups on campus is deeply disappointing.

As such, here at Student Rights we were glad to see an announcement from the Islamic Society yesterday that he would no longer be attending the event.

However, he has since been replaced by Uthman Lateef, who recently told students at the University of Nottingham “...we are not homophobic, we just hate homosexual acts”.

This is similar to previous views expressed, including that “we don’t accept homosexuality...we hate it because Allah hates it”.

These invites come just weeks after the university’s LGBT Society released a report, which found that 50% of LGBT students did not feel safe all of the time on campus, and which specifically referenced the invite of homophobic speakers.

At the time Secretary Jamie Wareham said the report showed it is “difficult to be LGBT at the University of Westminster”, and that many believed the Student Union (SU) didn’t do enough to support LGBT students.

Since then, the SU has stated that “...no student should feel intimidated or suffer harassment and/or discrimination whilst involved in UWSU activities or in our spaces” and that it has “a zero tolerance policy and will take action against any individuals or groups found to be engaging in intolerant or discriminatory behaviour”.

Whilst these invites would not constitute such behaviour, they will hardly be likely to assuage LGBT students’ fears, and we hope that students will take these concerns into account when inviting speakers in future.