Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Tories Against Homophobia? Yeah, When It Suits.

I caught a bit of Prime Minister's Question Time this morning, which served to remind me why I never usually listen. One of the big issues was a sordid bidding war between Labour and the Tories as to who first had the idea of ratcheting up police stop-and-search powers, including scrapping the form that coppers have to fill in to justify each incident.

But the bit that really riled me was the Tories demanding the exclusion of 'preacher of hate' Yusuf al-Qaradawi from the country, citing his anti-gay views as a reason. Excuse me, but if being anti-gay were a reason to be kept out of Britain, then the Tories had better book a fleet of jumbos to despatch a large number of their own party's members past and present from these shores.

Moreover, there is a big problem with the use of immigration controls against even the most unpleasant of characters. While David Cameron comes over all anti-homophobia in the House of Commons, the implication of his demand is that is is fine for al-Qaradawi to be anti-gay so long as he is anti-gay in someone else's country.

But despite the hypocrisy of Cameron and other reactionaries on the subject, al-Qaradawi is indeed an unpleasant character. It is possible, indeed necessary, to oppose both the Tories' use of this issue to whip up anti-foreigner hysteria, and also to oppose the actions of those such as Ken Livingstone who lay out the proverbial red carpet for al-Qaradawi. Socialists should be protesting against al-Qaradawi, not inviting him as an honoured guest.

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