Anti-Gay Hate Crime Up 21% in Tower Hamlets: Gay & Feminist Activists Respond to Gay Free Zone Case

This is at once hilarious and really, really pathetic. It’s basically a regurgitation of  Johann Hari’s shit piece which I wrote about here:

http://howupsetting.tumblr.com/post/3503560578/can-we-talk-about-muslim-homophobia-now

with some added legalese taken from a Rainbow Hamlets press release on the same subject (which you can read here:

http://hurryupharry.org/2011/06/01/%E2%80%9Crainbow-hamlets-says-lgbt-people-in-tower-hamlets-have-been-let-down-by-the-criminal-justice-system-%E2%80%9D/ )

There seems to be some war going on between various parties in the East End ‘gay community representative’ circle. For the record, leaving aside the Muslim aspect, I don’t really agree with either on this point. I think ‘hate crime’ legislation is always going to be messy because the very concept is messy. Messy and extremely unhelpful. I don’t think we need to beef up ‘gay’ hate crime legislation, I think we need to get rid of it all.

Anyway, let’s look at some choice sections of this press release:

  • The stickers (one sixth-A4 size) have been seen in several streets in Shoreditch, Canary Wharf and Hackney as well

Which is interesting, because only one of these areas falls entirely within Tower Hamlets. The vast majority of Shoreditch falls under Hackney Borough (as does Hackney, obviously). Homophobic crime has decreased in Hackney. And before anyone tells you that this means nothing because it’s a huge figure nonetheless, the 47 homophobic crimes the MET reports to April 2011 in Hackney compares with 317 Racist and Religious hate crimes, 130 rapes and 5900 cases of ‘violence against the person’.

  • People are upset that a coordinated, prolonged, multi-city attempt to define parts of the UK as Gay-Free Zones was treated as no more than mildly disorderly conduct

If this was ‘coordinated’ then the wicked people behind the conspiracy are truly the most inept planners…ever. Seriously, I could have done better. Some really shit stickers appeared in a few places and almost no-one knew they existed, and most people who knew they existed carried on their lives without giving it another thought. These shit stickers have been whipped up into some massive boogie man by people with an agenda.

  • There is a strong feeling that homophobia is being covered up, or ignored, in order not to ‘endanger community relations’

A ‘strong feeling’ from whom, exactly?! The 12 signatories of this release, several of whom have been deliberately exploiting this issue in order to demonise Muslims in East London for several months now? The guy was prosecuted for putting up offensive stickers. Statements from local gay people were read out in court. The judge said that he set out to “offend and distress. Worst. Cover-up. Ever.

  •  A comment on PinkNews says it all…

You know you’re in trouble when you resort to quoting comments from the shower of shite that is Pink News, with a bunch of commentors who wank each other into a frenzy with the idea that they are the Jews in Nazi Germany being ignored by ‘PC do-gooders’.

  • Such a light penalty would be unthinkable if we were considering groups operating across UK to create Jew-free, Black-free, Muslim-free or Christian-free zones.

It’s identity politics bingo! Let’s list a bunch of other minorities whom the NASTY PC DO-GOODERS are afraid of offending! Let’s ignore the fact that groups who do want such things frequently hold marches and protests with either no charges arising, or charges relating to public orderoffences after trouble kicks off. The idea that there is some conspiracy where racists, Islamaphobes and anti-religious bigots are being charged with hate crimes galore while homophobes run rampant is, quite frankly, risible. Laughter-inducingly so.

  • Human rights are for everyone or they are not at all

Except, presumably, when it’s some stupid kid who’s stuck up a few really shit stickers. Then we should lose all sense of perspective and justice and demand his head on a plate.

  • The “Gay-Free Zone” campaign was deliberately committed to fill gay people with fear in an area where they have already have been subject to vicious assaults and intimidation by gangs and ideologues for years

The FIRST time I have seen any of these people mention ‘gangs’, albeit not in an acknowledgment that the incidents (which overwhelmingly seem to occur in Shoreditch) happen in places with huge gang problems and all of the violence that comes from that. When I pointed out to someone that there had been stabbings just metres from the horrible attack on Oliver Hemsley which no gay person seemed to care about, I was told that they had ‘nothing to do with gay people’. Breathtaking. Apparently it’s fair enough if you’re stabbed as long as you’re not called a ‘poof’ while it happens. Then it’s time to MOBILISE. Stupid, blinkered and useless.

    • While it is often claimed that homophobic hate crime is ‘falling’ in Tower Hamlets, the most recent statistics released by the Metropolitan Police Service show that homophobic hate crime is UP in Tower Hamlets by 21% over last annual reporting period, from 67 attacks to 81; during the same period, religious/racial hate crime remained flat

This has already been tackled by several people (http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2011/2/28/are-muslims-responsible-for-a-huge-rise-in-homophobic-attack.html and http://aethelreadtheunread.wordpress.com/2011/03/02/can-we-talk-about-johann-haris-shoddy-journalism-now/ to mention two ). It’s worth re-iterating that homophobic crime has actually fallen in Hackney. It’s also fallen in Waltham Forest, another heavily Muslim area, while in Newham there have been 2 more incidents than last year. Westminster, Islington and Enfield (to name 3 boroughs which don’t exactly spring to mind when you think ‘Muslim’) have had increases between 26 and 75%.

As for the quite horrible effort to play homophobic crimes against religious/racial crimes – in Tower Hamlets the rolling 12-month figure for homophobic crime is currently 81 incidents. For religious/racial crime, it’s currently 352. Hardly worthy of the ‘everything’s fine there’ dismissive tone it receives.

  • Many gay people have been forced out of the borough, unable to cope with the harassment.

Seriously – WHAT?! A repeat of Johann Hari’s assertion in the pathetic ‘correction’ to his original article. Any evidence for this? Anyone? Anything at all? I suspect it would be along the lines of ‘my mate Bob left’. PATHETIC!

    • A particularly vicious attack – ignored by national media – occurred in late August 2008, when a 21 year-old art student, Oliver Hemsley, was butchered just after leaving the George & Dragon pub on Hackney Road in Shoreditch

Leaving aside the hysterical language, it was so ‘ignored by national media’ that the first page of google results for Oliver’s name brings up articles from the BBC, Daily Mail, The Independent and Sky News reporting it.

    •  15 year old, Nasrul Islam, was the only gang member to be brought to justice. Incredibly, the police released him on bail – only for him to mug a 12 year-old girl just days later.

Well that’s odd. Did he mug a little girl because he’s a homophobic Muslim? The judge in the case stated that ”This was an entirely motiveless, mindless attack. Its ferocity makes my blood run cold. He speaks with a degree of pride about his reputation with the boys, with the local community.” So a picture is emerging of a violent gang member in the area in question. Also of note is that the court reports tell of Oliver being attacked while en-route to an off-license, and not on his way to the nearby gay bar as these people like to report. When I noted the inconsistencies in the story with the ‘gay man attacked deliberately for being gay’ narrative, I was told by one of the signatories of this statement that I was ‘fine’ with the stabbing of a young man. This is the mentality of these people. You are either with them or you are a sympathiser for a rampaging homophobic menace which cares only about whether you are gay or not and nothing else.

    • The East London Mosque (ELM), the main mosque in East London, was quick to distance itself from, and to condemn, the “Gay Free Zone” stickers

But we’ll gloss over this, and the Mayor and other prominent Muslims’ support and participation in a Faith Communities and Homophobia Forum in May, cos that makes things a bit more grey than we’d like. Regarding the East London Mosque, they can speak for themselves with regards to the IFE : http://www.eastlondonmosque.org.uk/uploadedImage/pdf/2010_03_15_17_14_22_ELM_dispatches_response.pdf

    • We must stop assuming that the ELM/IFE represent the larger Muslim community

What a bizarre statement. Who said they did? If anything it seems to be these people who are so keen to lump all Muslims in with the ‘extremists’ they perceive to be running rampage in East London. If the vast majority of Muslims oppose and condemn the IFE and the Mosque itself condemns homophobia, I’m failing to see the point here.

    • In addition to its IFE connections, the ELM has also hosted numerous hate preachers who have promoted the most vicious homophobia imaginable over the years. 

A criticism which Peter Tatchell acknowledged they had responded to and led to them promising not to host any such preachers in future.

    • While it is doubtful that many gaybashers are regular mosque attendees

STOP THE BUS!

    • the ELM’s preachers have created an atmosphere in which hate is socially acceptable

Even in non-Muslim areas by non-Muslims, apparently. ELM is PRETTY POWERFUL! The article then ends with a flourish of homophobic utterances from a bunch of Muslims. Even though they’ve just acknowledged that most Muslims apparently oppose extremism and gay-bashers are unlikely to frequently attend the ELM. That’s some nice logic there.

I don’t wish my tone to imply that there isn’t a problem. Homophobia and violent crime should be taken seriously and should be tackled. This is not served by trying to exploit and distort events in order to pursue your own personal agenda and pit minorities against each other. It is certainly not served by ignoring the common root causes of violent crime and acting like the attack of a gay man outside the George and Dragon is completely unrelated to the shooting of a straight man outside Jam (which used to be directly opposite). Engaging with these issues means growing up and getting past the idea that the thing which makes you a ‘minority’ is the defining characteristic of your entire being and everything you do and everything that happens to you, then demanding that everyone around act in the same way and responding with fury when they don’t.

The current path the signatories of this statement are on is going to achieve absolutely nothing.

Anti-Gay Hate Crime Up 21% in Tower Hamlets: Gay & Feminist Activists Respond to Gay Free Zone Case

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Help, I’m being persecuted: Hypocrisy and free speech | a paper bird

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