Letter to Time Out regarding Paul Burston’s Tower Hamlets comments

This letter was sent to Time Out in response to comments by Paul Burston in a hateful, anti-Muslim Daily Mail article. Time Out chose not to print the letter but I have reproduced it here and encourage any others who wish to do so to post it on your own blogs and websites. The letter attracted nearly 40 signatories in just two days, including: comedian Ava Vidal, ULU President Clare Solomon, Hanif Leylabi (NUS LGBT Committee), Nina Power (Senior Lecturer, Roehampton University), Pav Akhtar (UK Black Pride) and Thierry Schaffauser (Chair of Out East).

Dear Time Out,

We were dismayed by Paul Burston’s contribution to the Daily Mail’s latest scaremongering article “Tower Hamlets Taliban” (May 13th), where he claimed there were an increasing number of attacks against gay men by Muslims in Tower Hamlets, specifically ‘gangs of young Bangladeshis’. Burston was quoted in his capacity as a Time Out journalist but we sincerely hope that his comments and the general tenor of this article do not represent the views of your publication, and invite you to openly dissociate yourself from them. Homophobic violence is deplorable, but police statistics show that levels of homophobic violence in Tower Hamlets are no higher among those of Bangladeshi origin than among other groups – so why does Burston feel the need to mention the ethnicity and religion of the attackers? Nobody considers such factors relevant when talking about the high levels of homophobic violence in boroughs such as Westminster or Islington where the vast majority of attacks are not by Muslims. The right-wing press reports on homophobia as if it were unique to the Muslim community. But we shouldn’t demonise one group – homophobia is a problem across society, and one we need to work together to tackle.

A.L. Gust

Adam Lambert

Akkas Al-Ali, playwright and director

Andrew Godfrey

Anindya Bhattacharyya

Ava Vidal, comedian

Calum Blundell

Clare Solomon, President, ULU

David Wearing, School of Public Policy, UCL

Denis Fernando

Elane Heffernan, Hands off my workmate

Guy Taylor, Globalise Resistance

Hanif Leylabi, NUS LGBT Committee

Hannah Dee Hussain Ismail, theatre group leader and community activist

Ian Townson

Jennifer Marks

Jo Littler, Senior Lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies, Middlesex University

John McLoughlin, Branch Secretary, Tower Halmets Unison (pc)

Kevin O’Neill

Marie Xeno, Tower Halmets Unison (pc)

Mitch Matthews-Dublin

Nina Power, Senior Lecturer, Roehampton University

Pav Akhtar, UK Black Pride

Petra Davis

Phoebe Queen

Rebecca Shaw

Richard Farnos

Richard Seymour Ruairidh John Dugald Maclean

Sean Rillo Raczka – Vice President elect ULU, NUS NEC

Simon Hewitt

Syed Bokhari

Tam Ari

Terry Stewart

Thierry Schaffauser, Out East (Chair)

Viv Smith

William Brownings, UCU Hackney Community College branch (Equalities Rep)


About Thierry Schaffauser

Queer, sex worker, drugs user, student in Gender History, GMB trade unionist, migrant, wants to change the world, etc
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