The English Defence League's Two Faces On Free Speech

The English Defence League wants to make its argument against Muslims, but says that those who oppose its bigotry should be denied a platform.

The English Defence League (EDL), a far right 'anti-Islamist' group has accused the RMT of preventing a member of the league's LGBT division from taking part in a protest against 'Islamic homophobia'. In an article on the EDL website, the group condemns the RMT for organising a counter-demonstration.

When the EDL organised a protest outside parliament in support of Dutch anti-Islamist politician Geert Wilders, RMT and Unite Against Fascism members held a counter-demonstration. Wilders' policies include giving fewer constitutional rights to people living in Holland who aren't Christian or Jewish, and banning the building of mosques or Islamic schools. Wilder says members of 'radical' mosques should be 'expelled' from his country. He claims 'there is no such thing as moderate Islam'. The implication seems to be that he sees all Muslims as radicals who should be deported.

One EDL demonstrator is a former RMT member and co-organiser of the EDL's 'Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender' division. He recently emailed the RMT to complain about RMT members' conduct at the rally. He says it was unfair that EDL members were heckled as fascists and Nazis.

The league's article says that the RMT, by organising the counter-demo, is supporting radical Muslims who believe LGBT people should be executed. But protesting against EDL's hatred of Muslims doesn't mean the RMT supports homophobia, whatever its source.

The article claims, "the left is unwilling to confront the fact that the main threat to the rights and freedoms of homosexual Britons comes from the Islamists and the blatantly and violently homophobic Sharia law that they promote." EDL needs to tell us if this is the same left that fought Section 28, equalised the age of consent, criminalized discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and introduced civil partnerships.

Perhaps the comment is suggesting that the RMT is unwilling to support LGBT Britons. The very union that marches proudly at gay pride marches across the country with straight and LGBT members side by side, holds annual LGBT conferences, has representatives who support LGBT brothers and sisters across the UK and last year passed a motion to support Iraqi LGBT people.

The RMT has expelled members of racist groups before and will continue to do so. Racist and homophobic views are despicable, regardless of who holds them, be it a gay member of a racist group, or minority ethnic members of homophobic groups. If you are a bigot, then RMT members will stand against you.