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June 28, 2011

IconPoll reveals Muslim support for gay rights

A poll conducted by think-tank Demos has indicated that Muslims are particularly likely to be “proud” of gay rights in Britain.

46.6% cent of British Muslim respondents agreed with the statement: “I am proud of how Britain treats gay people.” This was similar to the Christian average of 46.5% and tallied broadly with the average level of support for the statement amongst all respondents, which stood at 46.1%.

34% of Muslims participating in the poll said that they neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement. 8.5% “tended” to disagree, and 10.6% “strongly” disagreed.

Similar levels of disagreement were found amongst a number of religious groups, although no other group was as likely to “strongly” disagree with the statement. Muslims were also more likely than any group other than Sikhs to “strongly” agree with the statement, suggesting that British Muslim opinion is polarised on the issue of gay rights.

“This poll highlights that negative stereotyping of the views of Muslims in the UK distorts our political debate,” said Dr Rob Berkeley, director of the Runnymede Trust.

The findings contrast with the results of a 2009 Gallup poll in which 0% of British Muslim interviewees felt that homosexuality was morally acceptable.

Sunny Hundal of Liberal Conspiracy argued that “the two results are not contradictory: Muslims can agree that Islam does not tolerate homosexuality, while celebrating gay rights enshrined in the law.”

Equality and Human Rights Commission chairman Trevor Phillips claimed earlier this month that British Christians are more likely to be “militant” on the issue of gay rights than Muslims.

“The most likely victim of actual religious discrimination in British society is a Muslim but the person who is most likely to feel slighted because of their religion is an evangelical Christian,” he said.

“I think for a lot of Christian activists, they want to have a fight and they choose sexual orientation as the ground to fight it on.”

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Ruth Pearce

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