The Trocadero Centre in Leicester Square, a hugely popular area for tourism in the West End, London. (Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)
A British LGBT+ community forum welcomed plans on Thursday (May 28) for a mosque and community centre in the heart of London’s gay district despite seething pushback.
With its yellowing walls, the historic Trocadero building is a lodestar for Londoners snaking through the crowds of Piccadilly Circus into Soho, a patch of the capital stuffed with queer bars and clubs.
The Aziz Foundation, a charity that offers educational grants and scholarships to Muslims, has applied to Westminster city council for permission to convert the basement and ground floor of the building into a Mosque and recreation space.
White nationalists have vehemently opposed the move, cramming complaints into Westminster council, but the LGBT+ community has also been divided.
Some queer groups have raised concerns about the addition of a place of worship into a neighbourhood known for its bustling nightlife, w§hile others welcomed the move, saying it is “keeping in the tradition” of Soho as a district of tolerance.
LGBT+ group welcomes Islamic place of worship in London’s gay district.
The Westminster LGBT+ Forum has pledged its support to the Aziz Foundation.
Group leaders wrote in a press release: “Soho has a proud and historic tradition of accepting and welcoming people of all kinds from all over the world, and its communities are open-minded and tolerant of all religions.
“We believe this proposal is very much in keeping with that tradition, and will help support Muslims living, working and visiting our very unique part of Westminster, where they are currently poorly served. ”
Leaders stressed that the Forum is “welcoming [of] people of all faiths and none.
“We hope the proposals are successful and will be very happy to work with the Aziz Foundation and the new centre, when completed, to promote acceptance, respect and tolerance across all of Soho’s diverse and wonderful communities.”
Soho group says objections to mosque must not come from a place of racism.
As pockets of social media users urged followers to to “mobilise an objection group” to halt, what they called, a “mega-mosque” and white nationalist bloggers decried the plan as a danger to the “native people of this country”, a new campaign group presented its opposition to the opening.
The Soho Community Campaign stressed that objections to the building of the Mosque on 19 Rupert Street must not come from a place of racism.
A spokesperson for the group said in a statement: “Soho is a small area, frequented by the LGBT community.
“This community brings an important, bustling economy to the West End, which will be impacted significantly should this proposal go ahead.
“At a time when so many of our restaurants, bars and clubs are struggling —and are still so crucial to our community — it has never been more vital to protect these spaces.
“This is an argument to protect a traditionally LGBT area and not an argument against religious spaces.”
Westminster council’s consultation on the proposal closed May 28. A decision will be announced later this year.