Page last updated at 12:18 GMT, Monday, 8 March 2010

Gay Asians reveal racism problems

By Sanjiv Buttoo
BBC Asian Network

Gay Asians in Yorkshire say they are discriminated against
Gay Asians in Yorkshire say they are discriminated against

Gay Asian men living in Yorkshire say they are facing increasing racial abuse from within the gay community.

They claim the problem means that some of them are fearing for their own safety and have decided to stay at home or just suffer in silence.

Naz from Wakefield explained that when he goes out on to the gay scene in Leeds and Bradford he always sees or suffers from racial abuse.

"I have a fear now when I go out that there will be racism directed towards me and my friends," he told BBC Asian Network.

"It makes us feel very insecure and I don't think its worth going out because of the problems we face."

Ali from Bradford is a regular on the gay scene in the North of England.

He goes out every week and tries to ignore the insults but says, inevitably, the racism does get to him.

We don't get served in bars unless we protest and we get called Paki or have to deal with comments like 'here come the suicide bombers'
Ali from Bradford

"If I go out then I don't like to go on my own," he said. "I always go with friends.

"We get looked at in a funny way. We don't get served in bars unless we protest and we get called Paki or have to deal with comments like 'here come the suicide bombers'."

Both Ali and Naz go to get help and advice from a group called ABC in Bradford who provide a support network for Asian and black gay men in West Yorkshire.

Double life

Arshad Khan runs the group and he said: "Being gay and Asian means we suffer from many more problems than other gay men do and it takes great courage for us to go out on the scene and mix in public.

"Why should we always get stopped going in to a bar or club and searched? We even get asked to take our trousers down to see if we are carrying any weapons.


Racism is alive and well but its far worse in Yorkshire than in cities like London and Manchester

Asif Quareshi from the Naz Project in London

"We don't want to be accused of being drug dealers or carrying guns. White gay men do not have to endure this. We just want to go out and relax in what should be a safe environment for us."

Satnam from Leeds believes most gay Asian men still lead a double life as most do not tell their families, while many are married.

"Gay people always say they're more sensitive to other peoples' needs, so it's ironic that I get more racism from gay men than any other community," he said.

"If you want to get away from the problem, sadly, you have to go to Asian gay bars and clubs where there's no racism."

One of England's oldest gay support groups for Asians is the Naz Project in London, where Asif Quareshi works with south Asian men.

"Racism is alive and well but it's far worse in Yorkshire than in cities like London and Manchester," he explained.

Test kiss

Kam moved from London to Leeds a few years ago and agrees that if you want to avoid suffering racism you either do not go out or go to Asian-only bars and clubs.

"In big cities the gay community is segregated with white, black and Asian clubs and bars and, where they all meet, is where there are big problems.

"Before we can go into a club bouncers ask us to kiss other men to prove we are really gay. White men are not asked to do this so I just don't bother going out anymore, it's not worth it."

The Gay Helpline UK says they are not aware of any such problems but agree that racism towards Asians may be happening.

They have urged anyone with concerns to contact them to see how they can offer any help.

Mr Khan concluded: "We get rejected in many of these bars and clubs and the gay community need to work together and get rid of racism."

The names of the gays Asians mentioned above have been changed to protect their identity.

You can hear more at 1230 and 1800 GMT on 8 March on the BBC's Asian Network Reports radio show or via the BBC iPlayer.



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