Piers Morgan today challenged a Muslim journalist who said being gay was a ‘choice’ during a debate on parents removing their children from LGBT lessons.
Dilly Hussain said parents were angry because of a lack of ‘communication and transparency’ from teachers, but admitted it was also because Islam considers homosexuality to be ‘a sin’.
Asked whether he thought being gay was a choice, he said: ‘I feel that it is.’ This sent Piers into a rant saying: ‘We’re meant to be a tolerant country, we’re not in Islamabad – in Britain homosexuality is accepted.’
Parents protest against the inclusive ‘No Outsiders’ classes at Anderton Park Primary school after the final bell on Monday afternoon
The No Outsiders programme, which aims to promote LGBT and racial equality, has proved controversial among some Muslim parents in Birmingham, who have protested outside two primary schools.
During a protest outside Anderton Park Primary School on Monday, demonstrators handed out leaflets that declared ‘We DO NOT believe in homosexuality. Parents do NOT want their children’s belief changed.’
Hussain, deputy editor of British Muslim site 5Pillars, said the protests had been sparked by a lack of consultation from the school.
But Piers argued it was because the families were Muslim and against homosexuality.
‘Muslim parents think being gay is inherently wrong, they think that homosexuality is a sin,’ he said.
Mr Hussain agreed that it was a sin but that it ‘doesn’t mean we cant co-exist in peace.’
Piers suggested thinking homosexuality was sinful meant being homophobic, to which Hussain replied: ‘It’s not homophobia but a theological standpoint. It’s not inciting violence or hatred.
‘Do we not live in a society that we ardently disagree about fundamental issues about man, life and the universe? That doesn’t mean we hate the people we disagree with.’
Mr Hussain also said parents were angry about their children being ‘sexualised’ and the state obstructing their rights as parents to decide what their children are taught.
‘I think it’s a symptomatic issue of a wider problem, which is the increasing sexualisation of children in wider society, and the encroachment by the state in the rights of parents,’ he said.
‘It’s not just an issue of same sex relations, it’s any type of sexual relations and gender identity that children are being exposed to.
‘The reason why parents have resorted to petitions and protests in Birmingham has been a lack of consultation.’
Mr Hussain added: ‘The parents have consistently maintained they do not have any issues with the Equality Act, but religious beliefs are also protected.’
Dilly Hussain, deputy editor of British Muslim site 5Pillars, argued on GMB today that parents have the right to protest against LGBT school lessons which contradict their beliefs – but this shouldn’t be seen as homophobia
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former head of Ofsted, (second from right) insisted the parents were wrong and had been ‘whipped up’ by radicals
Mr Hussain’s comments were met with scorn from fellow GMB panellist Sir Michael Wilshaw, the former head of Ofsted, who pointed out that Parkfield had been rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.
‘This is an outstanding school, and it wouldn’t get that judgement if it was not engaging regularly with parents,’ he said.
‘Schools have got a job to do in the sort of society that we are… they need to prepare young people to go out in Britain and cope in Britain.
‘They need to teach tolerance. In primary schools you see children who are gay being bullied and people being called gay as a pejorative word.’
He later accused ‘radicals’ of whipping up the protests and urged both schools and the government to stand firm.
His comments were echoed by Anderton Park headteacher Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, who on Monday called for help from education secretary Damian Hinds.
Anderton Primary School parents on Monday handed out leaflets that declared ‘We DO NOT believe in homosexuality. Parents do NOT want their children’s belief changed’
The parents claim the classes – which aim to teach children about diversity, tolerance and acceptance – undermine them. Here, they wave signs saying ‘Let kids be kids’ and ‘Say no to sexualisation of children’
Asked at the end of the GMB debate his message to gay Muslims in Britain, he said: ‘Inclinations towards the same sex within Islam and other Abrahamic faiths is no different to any other sin.
‘Just because you have engaged in that sin does not mean you have been excommunicated in that faith.
‘Moving forward there has to be engagement and transparency between schools and parents.’