A new survey documenting ethnic and religious attitudes in Britain has discovered a startlingly liberal approach to gay rights in the Muslim community.
The poll, conducted by think tank Demos in preparation for a forthcoming essay collection, shows that Muslims are more likely to strongly agree with the statement “I am proud of how Britain treats gay people” than people of no religion. Only Sikhs were more likely to strongly agree.
“British Muslims are far more enlightened and proud of our liberal values than they are often given credit for,” Max Wind-Cowie, head of the Progressive Conservatism Project at Demos, commented.
Overall, fewer than one in four British Muslims disagreed with the statement.
The poll found a high degree of pride in being British among Muslims, with four in five saying they were proud to be a British citizen and two-thirds saying they were proud of Britain’s culture. Only one in five said they were not proud of Britain’s role in the world.
The findings mark a significant change since a Gallup poll in 2009 found that zero per cent of British Muslims were tolerant towards homosexuality.
However, as Sunny Hundal points out at Liberal Conspiracy, the findings in the Demos poll are not necessarily in conflict with the 2009 Gallup poll. It is possible to believe that homosexuality is morally wrong according to the tenets of one’s faith while at the same time opposing oppression and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This is a distinction that was lost in at least one report of the Gallup poll results, which asserted that “Muslims in Britain have zero tolerance of homosexuality”.
The details of the Demos poll can be found here.