Muslim leader may be checked by police for alleged gay slur
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, is facing an investigation by police under the Public Order Act following a complaint about comments he made on the radio concerning lesbian and gay people, reports the BBC.
In an interview on Radio 4's PM Programme on 3 January 2006, the Muslim leader said that homosexuality was 'harmful' and implied that it helped spread disease. He also criticised civil partnerships.
Describing homosexual practice as 'not acceptable', the MCB chief said: '[I]f you look into the scientific evidence that has been available in terms of the forms of various other illnesses and diseases that are there, surely it points out that where homosexuality is practised there is a greater concern in that area.'
According to a statement from Scotland Yard, it had 'received a report of comments made in a radio interview which the complainant believed were homophobic in nature and asked us to investigate'.
Dr Sacranie went on to advocate tolerance in society. But he said that the prohibition on homosexual practice was backed by the teachings of Christianity and Judaism as well as Islam.
The case has precedent. Back in 2003 a bishop who told a local newspaper that homosexuals should seek a psychiatric cure was investigated by police over whether his views might incite people to turn on gay people. No charges were forthcoming.
The police are required to investigate when faced with Public Order complaints, but legal observers say there is little chance of charges being preferred in the latest case.
A church gay rights activist told Ekklesia: 'Much though I disagree with Dr Sacranie's views, trying to use public order legislation to suppress them is wrong and unhelpful, unless those remarks are clearly intended to incite people to acts of hatred. The religious right often tries to deny free speech. We should not fall into the same trap.'