Indian Muslims for Secular Democracy (IMSD) has strongly condemned the “efforts by the Muslim right wing in Kerala, including leaders of the Jamaat-e-Islami and the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and some Muslim-run websites,” to denigrate and demonise Muslims who are part of the LGBTQIA+ community.
A pressnote signed by 38 persons, including Islamic scholars, journalists, scientists, filmmakers, academicians, lawyers and social activists, said it was a tragic irony that while the minority Muslim community in India was itself the target of rampant Islamophobia, the conservatives among them were hurling hate speech at the sexual minorities. “What logic or ethics makes Islamophobia wrong but homophobia, queerphobia or transphobia right? Not surprisingly, the Muslim right has much in common with the Hindu right,” the pressnote said.
According to the IMSD, the latest trigger for the fulminations by the Muslim right wing was the news the previous month of a transgender couple from Kerala, Zahad Fazil, a transman, and Ziya Payal, a transwoman, becoming biological parents of a baby. “What perhaps added to the fervour of the self-appointed custodians of morality is the fact that Kerala’s Health Minister Veena George promptly congratulated the couple and directed the Kozhikode Medical College to provide all treatment free of cost. She also arranged for breast milk to be provided to the baby from the human milk bank.”
“Being targets of hate politics themselves, Muslims should know the difference between free speech and hate speech. Comparing homosexuality to paedophilia, targeting members of the LGBTQIA+ community with words and expressions such as “a shame”, “mentally ill”, “worst kind of people” or “people in need of treatment” are hate speech, not free speech”.
The pressnote said the Constitution that guarantees Muslims the right to freely profess, practise and propagate their faith cannot but also guarantee to sexual minorities the right to publicly proclaim their presence and hold a Pride Parade.
Signatories to the pressnote include lawyer A.J. Jawad, actor Naseeruddin Shah, poet and scientist Gauhar Raza, Islamic scholar Ghulam Rasool Dehlvi, poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar, and civil rights activist Teesta Setalvad.