On May 17, also known as International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOTB), Western University in Canada faced outrage from its local Muslim community when it posted a graphic featuring two women in hijab in the pretext of an intimate relationship.
Many said the post was “inappropriate” and “disrespectful” because the hijab holds religious and spiritual connotations. Wrote one person in the comment section, “Shame on you Western for such an insulting mockery post to my religion.”
The backlash resulted in the removal of the post from the University’s social media pages after a petition against the imagery received over 2,000 signatures.
A local Muslim leader, Imam Abd Alfatah Twakkal, agreed to much of the criticism."We respect the human rights of everyone as protected under Ontario’s human rights bill," Twakkal said. "While we appreciate that the intent is to promote inclusion, the poster is doing the opposite. Singling a Muslim religious symbol in that setting is inappropriate."
Opiyo Oloya, a diversity and equity specialist for the university, commented on the issue. "We believe this presents an opportunity for genuine, thoughtful discussion about how we can best support members of the Queer Muslim community and those from all faiths and backgrounds within the 2SLGBTQ+ community," Oloya said. "In order to promote that discussion, we have removed the image from the post to not distract from these important conversations."
In the end, it seems Western University's promotion of the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia resulted in submitting to Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia.