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Humanists UK expresses alarm at GoFundMe silence on Birmingham anti-LGBT protesters’ crowdfunder

Update, 10:45, 10 September: GoFundMe has now contacted Humanists UK to say they have removed the page. Job done! 

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham said: ‘We’re delighted GoFundMe has removed the page, though we regret that they did not do this until we resorted to the media, some two months after our first complaint to them. It’s disappointing that the protesters have probably received the money they raised in the interim.

‘This homophobic crowdfunder was in support of protesters who have been holding disruptive and intimidating rallies that have absolutely no place near a school. There is strong evidence that the protesters involved in these demonstrations have been uttering outrageous homophobic slurs and even calling members of school staff paedophiles which surely was in breach of GoFundMe’s terms.’

The story that follows was originally published at 10:00 on the Humanists UK website:

Humanists UK has asked crowdfunding website GoFundMe to remove a campaign that is raising money to support anti-LGBT education protestors who are subject to a court injunction banning them from holding protests near Anderton Park Primary in Birmingham. Humanists UK first complained about the GoFundMe page in June and then lodged a further complaint, but the company is yet to respond.

The crowdfunding page was set up by Shakeel Afsar who, despite having no children of his own at the school, is behind the wave of protests against LGBT-inclusive lessons in Birmingham.

The page, which has raised almost £10,000, seemingly violates GoFundMe’s terms of service in that it is ‘in support of, or for the legal defence of alleged crimes associated with hate, violence, harassment, bullying, discrimination, terrorism or intolerance of any kind relating to race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender or gender identity or serious disabilities or diseases.’

Recently GoFundMe removed disgraced Australian Rugby star Israel Folau’s crowdfunder on the grounds that his campaign to raise funds to fight his dismissal from the Australian rugby team for homophobic remarks violated its terms of service. But in spite of Humanists UK lodging two complaints to GoFundMe about the anti-LGBT page in recent months, the crowdfunder remains on the site and is still receiving funds.

The page is raising money to fight a High Court injunction that prevents the activists from conducting their demonstrations at the school gates. During these demonstrations, the court heard ‘evidence of aggressive shouting and the use of “extremely intimidating” body language towards staff members in the street, and of protesters blocking the path as parents seek to take their children to the school.’ There are also videos of Mr Afsar and other protesters giving their support to a local Imam who calls the school staff ‘paedophiles’ and refers to LGBT-inclusive education as ‘a paedophile agenda’.

A full trial on whether to keep the injunction barring protesters from the school is likely to take place next month.

Humanists UK Education Campaigns Manager Dr Ruth Wareham said: ‘This homophobic crowdfunder is in support of protesters who have been holding disruptive and intimidating rallies that have absolutely no place near a school. There is strong evidence that the protesters involved in these demonstrations have been uttering outrageous homophobic slurs and even calling members of school staff paedophiles which surely must in breach of GoFundMe’s terms.

‘GoFundMe has a responsibility to ensure that its platform does not amplify campaigns that are designed to support bigotry, intolerance, discrimination, or hatred. Recently, we have seen GoFundMe in Australia take a firm stand on these issues, saying that it is ‘absolutely committed to the fight for equality for LGBTIQ+ people and fostering an environment of inclusivity’. We urgently ask that GoFundMe to do the same here by standing up for LGBT people and removing this page immediately.’

NOTES

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078 or 07393 344293.

View the crowdfunder.

Read our article about the court injunction at Anderton Park.

Read our latest news item on mass withdrawal from RSE in Charedi Jewish schools.

For more information on our work on relationships and sex education.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by over 85,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

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