London Mayor flies rainbow flag in a show of tolerance
Yesterday, May 17, was International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, and – in a move that would no doubt have enraged religious conservatives – the newly-elected Mayor of London Sadiq Khan hoisted a rainbow flag outside the City Hall to mark IDAHOT.
According to Pink News, the Labour Mayor is one of the country’s most prominent pro-LGBT Muslim politicians.
He has been candid about receiving death threats from some hardline Islamist preachers after voting in favour of same-sex marriage in 2013, and is a strong voice for tolerance.
Khan told Pink News in a statement:
I could not be more proud to help celebrate IDAHOT 2016 by flying the Pride flag here at City Hall.
I was elected on a pledge to be Mayor for all Londoners and I will work with the LGBT+ community – as I will with all communities – to do everything I can to make London a more tolerant, fairer place to live.
This is personal to me because I have been on the receiving end of hate crime, which has no place in our city, and I know how devastating it can be.
Speaking to Pink News earlier this year, Khan pledged to take a tough stance on homophobic hate crimes as Mayor. He said:
I’ve been the victim of hate crime – anybody who is a minority is potentially the victim of hate crime. Whether you’re an ethnic minority, you’re lesbian gay, trans, religious minority, a woman, disabled, to me it’s personal because I have been on the receiving end.
Khan also said he would restore the Mayor’s role attending London’s annual Gay Pride event, which former Mayor Boris Johnson had missed every year since 2010.
When Khan was elected Mayor, members of Pakistan’s ruling party were jubilant, as the photo below shows. They may now be having second thoughts.
Meanwhile, it is reported here that a transgender police officer – Constable Mairead Devlin – said he was “humbled and proud” to become the first person to raise the rainbow LGBTI flag outside Brisbane’s police headquarters to mark IDAHOT.
The move was aimed at demonstrating the Queensland Police Service’s (QPS) support for the LGBTI community.
The 22-year-old said he joined the service in 2013 and transitioned from female to male from late 2014.
But a sour note was struck this week at the United Nations, where – according to this report – a group of 51 Muslim states blocked 11 gay and transgender organisations from attending a high-level meeting at the UN next month on ending Aids
Egypt wrote to the President of the 193-member general assembly on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to object to the participation of the 11 groups. It did not give a reason in the letter.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, above, then wrote to the general assembly President, Mogens Lykketoft, saying that the groups appeared to have been blocked for involvement in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy.
UN officials said the EU and Canada also wrote to Lykketoft to protest against the objections by the OIC group, whose members include Saudi Arabia, Iran, Indonesia, Sudan and Uganda.
The issues of LGBT rights and participation in events at the UN have long been contentious. The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has advocated for LGBT equality but faced opposition from African, Arab and Muslim states as well as Russia and China.
We are deeply concerned that at every negotiation on a new general assembly gathering, the matter of NGO [non-governmental organisation] participation is questioned and scrutinised. The movement to block the participation of NGOs on spurious or hidden grounds is becoming epidemic and severely damages the credibility of the UN.
In 2014, Ban said the UN would recognise all same-sex marriages of its staff, allowing them to receive its benefits. Russia, with the support of 43 states including Saudi Arabia, China, Iran, India, Egypt, Pakistan and Syria, unsuccessfully tried to overturn the move last year.
In February, the 54-member African Group, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the 25-member Group of Friends of the Family led by Belarus, Egypt and Qatar protested about six new UN stamps promoting LGBT equality.
Hat tip: Peter Sykes (UN report)