Muslim "homophobe" backs Tatchell's bid to be MP

By Scott Hart
Oct 23, 2009 - 4:23:42 PM
Peter Thatchell
A Muslim journalist who was once described as "homophobic" by gay rights activist Peter Tatchell is now endorsing the campaigner's bid to become an MP.

Adam Yosef, who works with the BBC, has written to Tatchell pledging his support to the parliamentary candidate for Oxford East, England.

In 2005, Yosef was accused by Tatchell and his Outrage! organisation of "unabashed homophobia" and "xenophobia" following an article he wrote in a national newspaper which branded Tatchell an "Islamophobe" and was said to encourage violence against him.

At the time of the incident Tatchell urged entertainment weekly Desi Xpress, for whom Adam worked as a columnist, to remove Yosef from his post. Tatchell also called on the BBC to sack Mr Yosef while the Labour Party's Tribune magazine called on the National Union of Journalists to strip him of his NUJ card.

In an offiical statement from Peter Tatchell's Outrage! organisation, Muslim Affairs spokesperson Aaron Saeed stated Yosef had "abused his journalistic position to attack Tatchell on behalf [of] people he has previously worked for", citing his close affiliation to the Respect Party.

Respect's national office responded by defending Yosef, saying he had "the right to voice his own opinions". Despite the outcry, Yosef's position at the newspaper remained intact following a swift apology from him and Tatchell was allowed a right of reply. Yosef also continued to write for the BBC and was not stripped of his NUJ credentials.

This exchange between human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell and Muslim journalist Adam Yosef, who also heads an interfaith dialogue organisation in Birmingham, is believed to have contributed towards the raging debate on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) issues within the Respect Party - an issue which may have encouraged the party's internal split in 2007.

The Respect Party has since forged new alliances with those on the left-wing of British politics, primarily several partnerships with The Green Party in order to increase polling success. Leading party member Adam Yosef's endorsement is believed to be the latest of these cross-party initiatives.

In the recent letter, Mr Yosef extends his formal support in the "spirit of solidarity" and calls for the left to "embrace a mutual personal and political commitment towards equality and human rights".

The Respect Party, which formed in 2003, currently has one serving MP - George Galloway - in the House of Commons. The Green Party has no parliamentary representation but both parties are fielding notable candidates across the country in wake of the financial crisis and MPs expenses scandal.

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