The Muslim Gay rights activist at the centre of a BBC censorship row has bemoaned the lack of acceptance of the gay community within the wider British Asian community.
Asifa Lahore, who describes herself as the “only gay Muslim drag queen in Britain”, had asked “when will it be right to be Muslim and gay?” during the ‘Free Speech’ debate on BBC Three but the question was cut from the program after protests by Birmingham Central Mosque where the show was held.
The show’s host Rick Edwards told the audience that the question would be debated at a later date but the decision sparked a storm on social media networks with several users accusing the BBC of censorship.
Asifa told the UKAsian that she had been barred from commenting on the issue but said the incident highlighted the problems faced by the British Asian Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) community.
“Acceptance of the LGBT community in South Asian culture has a very long way to go in my opinion.
“Despite there being a thriving South Asian LGBT community in the UK and back home in our motherlands, Asian communities are reluctant to acknowledge and accept their mere existence.
“Fears of backlash, persecution and forced marriage prevent LGBT people from coming out and most of those brave enough to are told not to disclose it the wider community. This had led to a lack of visibility and role models from this minority group and unless this doesn’t change then I don’t think the issue will move forward anytime soon”, Asifa said.
Producers of ‘Free Speech’ said the question was not discussed due to “security concerns”.
After a clip showing Lahore’s question, presenter Edwards said: “We were going to debate that question but today after speaking to the mosque they have expressed deep concerns with having this discussion here. They were happy for us to play that video and we will talk about it on our next programme on 25 March.”
A statement from the producers said the mosque had “received threats” following which a decision had been made by the BBC and mosque authorities to postpone the debate.
The chairman of the Birmingham Central Mosque Mohammed Naseem however, said he had been told just ten minutes before the live programme that part of the debate would focus on homosexuality.
“The impression given was that BBC Three wanted to discuss immigration. All the members of the committee were just informed 10 minutes before the programme started that they wanted to discuss homosexuality”, Naseem told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.