In July 2004, Peter Tatchell wrote this about Ken on his blog: ““Ken Livingstone has sided with male Muslim misogynists and homophobes against women and gay Londoners,”
He was commenting on the Mayor of London’s decision to host controversial Muslim scholar, Dr Al-Qaradawi, and to invite him to a further conference at City Hall in October.
“By kow-towing to Islamic fundamentalists like Dr Al-Qaradawi, the Mayor has betrayed liberal Muslims who are already isolated and terrorised within sections of British Muslim society,” said Mr Tatchell.
“Young Muslim girls in some parts of London are pressured by their families and religious leaders into wearing the hijab. Gay and lesbian Muslims have been threatened with violence by Islamic activists. Progressive Muslims who speak out in support of gay and women’s rights are intimidated and cowed into silence.“
“Ken Livingstone has associated himself with Muslim religious tyranny against liberal Muslim opinion,”
He also said: “Ken seems willing to sacrifice gay rights if it is politically expedient to do so. Does he want Muslim votes? Is that why he is cosying up to Islamic fundamentalists like Qaradawi and the reactionary Muslim Association of Britain (MAB)?”
Ken never abandoned these extremist links, but as recently as January 2011, was working for Iranian owned Press tv. only leaving under alleged duress from Ed Miliband.
We all agree that in the ’80′s, Ken did good work for LGBT causes. Unfortunately he is living in the past. He blithely ignores the fact that it is what he is doing now and saying now that matters. The past few days have seen a series of appalling gay gaffes from Ken and understandably these released a storm of protest, taken in conjunction with his extremist connections. Ken was branded a vulgar embarrassment.
On February 12th this year, Peter Tatchell said Ken is not homophobic. Many people disagreed, but that isn’t really the issue. He also said that Ken’s links with Al Qaradawi were very wrong. But he said because of Ken’s good LGBT work in the past, Ken should be judged on his overall record.
Good works in the past can never compensate for destructive acts now. All the evidence points that Peter was right the first time. Ken has dumped LGBT rights for Iranian extremism. If anything, his actions now have erased his good work in the past. The Mayor of London must be Mayor of all Londoners and there must not be a hint of divisiveness in his behaviour. The Jewish and gay communities, as well as many women, are deeply hurt by his recent about face. Don’t their feelings count?
We have to judge all Mayoral candidates on what they do and say now. And by that yardstick, Ken is not a suitable candidate to challenge Boris Johnson.