Global charity Oxfam has cancelled an event in London after learning the speaker called gay people ‘evil’.
Ibrahim Hewitt, a Palestinian speaker and former headteacher, had written a book for 15 to 16-year-old students describing homosexuality as a ‘great sin’.
He said in an Islamic state, homosexuality should be treated like pedophilia and incest.
In the book, Hewitt reportedly said: ‘[Homosexuality is an] evil practice which could corrupt and pollute the whole society.’
Oxfam media co-ordinator Alun MacDonald said they had cancelled last Friday’s event because Hewitt’s comments were ‘not in line with Oxfam’s position on homosexuality’.
‘We are against discrimination and what he has written is in contradiction to what we believe,’ he said.
But Hewitt has denied being homophobic, claiming the book was written in the early 90s to aid children’s education.
‘I don’t believe I am homophobic,’ he told Gay Star News. ‘I don’t advocate gays should be stoned or killed or adulterers should be flogged or killed.’
He said: ‘Oxfam told me because I wasn’t robust enough in promoting gay rights after the book, that they could no longer have me speak.
‘I did explain I’m a Muslim. While I understand people who are gay, it doesn’t mean I approve of it. If someone was drinking alcohol, I can’t approve of that and I wouldn’t promote it. It’s the same thing.’
Hewitt denies ever making any other homophobic comments in print or aloud since the educational book, a claim several gay activists such as Peter Tatchell denies.
He also refused to answer a question about whether he supported the homophobic laws in some Islamic countries, where some do include death by stoning. He said to answer the question requires a much deeper discussion than could be discussed on a phone call.
‘The children of Gaza will suffer because the event was cancelled,’ Hewitt said.
‘[Oxfam] raised the [gay] issue mischievously and clearly wasn’t thought through properly.’
UPDATE: An original version of this article quoted Hewitt as saying ‘the children of God will suffer’. Hewitt has got in contact with GSN and said he said the ‘children of Gaza’ – the subject he was originally asked to speak about by Oxfam. The quote has now been changed.