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4th March 2013

‘I was right to secretly record vile homophobia on campus,’ says Cortbus

Colin Cortbus says he was right to record a meeting of the ‘Global Aspirations of Women’’ society where a speaker said ‘homosexuals would be killed in an ideal world’

This month I recorded the vilest homophobic discussion imaginable at a public meeting of the ‘Global Aspirations of Women’ Society.

The meeting chair told me that in the Islamic State she was striving for thieves would have their hands cut off, adulterers would be stoned and homosexuals would be executed. She even told me that if I kissed another man outside of the Students’ Union, she would personally and morally feel comfortable to kill me. This was laconically followed by ‘no offence to you’ as if telling someone you’d be prepared to kill them could ever not be hurtful.

Showing off the sophisticated critical thinking facilities that will make her highly employable, another attendee lamented that if gays ‘can’t have kids, why didn’t they die out ages ago’.

Ever since, I have been subject to a strange mixture of praise and criticism. Douglas Murray in The Spectator called me a ‘reasonable sort of chap’ and even criticised me for being ‘too kind’ to Islam on the issue of stoning, which I had argued is not part of Islam. Even a BBC report reflected positively on what I had done. There are however those who feel I have somehow breached journalistic ethics by exposing this homophobia. Quite predictably the society chairperson, Khadijah Afzal, accused The Mancunion of deciding to ‘sneakily record’ the event and attempting to ‘malign Islam’ arguing that ‘the discussion on the punishment system in Islam shows that you are ignorant of Islam as a political system’, which is an ‘ideology just like any other ideology’. In this immensely telling statement she also appeared to advocate theocracy, urging a government on the basis of ‘obedience to the rules’ of ‘Quran and the Sunnah’, which she said would be quite ‘unlike’ Capitalism where ‘sovereignty belongs to man and he has the freedoms’. Quite ultimately she stated that it was all just a ‘hypothetical discussion’ where the views expressed ‘may or not have necessarily been that of the society’.

Some have accused me of pandering to Islamophobia. Others have expressed their ‘deep concern’ over my covert filming. To them I say the following: you should get your priorities right. Carefully pre-considered, legitimate filming of what was disgusting homophobia at a public meeting is fully in line with British law and our long tradition of investigative journalism. At a public event, where there is no expectation of privacy. The public interest here was and is clear. Rather than appearing to come to the trivialisation of anti-gay extremists, we should stand with those who, like the 5 out of 8 Muslim MPs who voted yes to equal marriage and Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed, founder of the LGBTQ-inclusive mixed-gender mosque in Paris, demand genuine freedom, progress and equality. Let us unite to oppose all anti-humanist, anti-individualistic, anti-secular and intolerant thought, whether from Global Aspirations, the Far-Right, the Marxist-Leninists, or Fundamentalist Christians.

The least the Union ought to do after this is to work with organisations such as Imaan UK to set-up a support society for openly gay Muslim students. I stand for a tolerant, secular, free and democratic society. I hope you stand with me. I have no apology to make for being free.

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