Saima Razzaq

Saima Razzaq is a British political activist and educator, co-chair of SEEDS (Supporting the Education of Equality in Schools) and Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Birmingham Pride. Razzaq actively campaigns for LGBT inclusive education in schools and was the first Muslim woman to lead a Pride parade in Britain.[1]

Saima Razzaq
Born
Saima Razzaq

Birmingham, England
OccupationPolitical activist and educator

Early life and educationEdit

Razzaq was born in Britain and raised in Small Heath in Birmingham. She is of Pakistani heritage.[2] Her family moved from India to Pakistan before partition, then migrated to the United Kingdom in the 1970s from Kashmir.[3]

CareerEdit

Razzaq is a former BBC producer,[4] music journalist[5] and former Head of Digital, Marketing and Communications at Robert Walters recruitment consultancy.[6] She also previously worked as Head of Content Marketing and Social Media at HomeServe.[7][self-published source?]

She runs a not-for-profit floating hotel, Boatel Birmingham, a social enterprise which aims to diversify the city's waterways by providing access for Black people and people of colour.[8][9]

Political activismEdit

Razzaq is well known for her activism on race, gender, racism and LGBT+ rights in the United Kingdom. She is a founding member and co-chair of SEEDS (Supporting the Education of Equality in Schools), which was formed by teachers as a 1,000-member network in response to protests against LGBT inclusive education outside schools in Birmingham, specifically the No Outsiders programme created by school teacher Andrew Moffat.[10] The group is dedicated to promoting the education of equality and diversity in schools, including LGBT+ inclusive education throughout primary and secondary school.[11][12]

During the Anderton Park Primary School protests in 2019, Razzaq was a mediator between teachers, parent groups and the city's LGBT community, working to challenge both homophobia and Islamophobia.[13][14] She said that “as a Pakistani Muslim I do often feel caught in the middle of two conflicting communities. As much as inherent homophobia and transphobia exists within my community we must also recognise the inherent racism within LGBTQI community."[15] She also said she felt uncomfortable with the media creating a “them and us” narrative which demonised her community for holding prejudicial views that existed in wider British society.[16]

She also claimed the voices of Muslim women were "being lost", saying "women need to and should be at the forefront of the conversation on gender and sexuality in an Islamic context. Our bodies and our sexuality need to be defined by our voices."[17]

In April 2019, Razzaq called out and met with Labour MP John Spellar after he was one of only 21 Members of Parliament to vote against the government's new LGBT-inclusive guidance for compulsory relationships and sex education.[18] The intervention led to Spellar reversing his opposition to the measures.[19] In June 2019, she challenged Labour MP Roger Godsiff's support of anti-LGBT school protests.[20] Godsiff was subsequently reported to the party whip, deselected and lost his Birmingham Hall Green parliamentary seat during the 2019 United Kingdom General Election.[21][22][23][24][25]

In May 2019, Razzaq jointly led Birmingham Pride alongside Moffat and several LGBT Muslims, making her the first Muslim woman to lead a Pride parade in the UK. The event was also the first time Muslims had led a Pride parade in Britain.[26][27][28]

In June 2019, she spoke at a 'Defending Equality' event organised by Southall Black Sisters and Feminist Dissent, alongside Jess Phillips MP, Khakan Qureshi, Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson and Stephen Cowden to show solidarity with schools affected by anti-LGBT protests.[29][30]

In July 2020, Razzaq criticised the 2022 Commonwealth Games describing the event as a "PR stunt" which is "steeped in colonialism" and a "waste of money".[31][32] However, in August 2022, she told The Guardian she had a "complicated relationship" with the Commonwealth but acknowledged the Games were "exciting".[33]

Razzaq has voiced her support for decolonising the national curriculum[34] and LGBT spaces to make them more inclusive.[35] She has praised UK Black Pride as a model for LGBT events.[36] In August 2021, she was appointed Head of Diversity and Inclusion for Birmingham Pride.

In August 2021, she chaired the Soap Box event as part of Ikon Gallery's annual Migrant Festival[37][38] to mark Refugee Week and World Refugee Day.

In October 2021, Razzaq spoke out against an increased number of homophobic attacks in Birmingham,[39][40][41] and continues to campaign against hate crime.[42] In response to hate crime incidents, Razzaq co-founded Brum Against Hate with activists Adam Yosef and Salman Mirza, organising protests demanding safer spaces for the LGBT community.[43]

In February 2022, a guest speaker lecture by Razzaq at the University of Birmingham was reportedly cancelled by senior members of the university after she asked for a change of venue, so as not to cross the picket line in solidarity with striking academic staff. She was due to give a lecture on intersectionality, inclusivity and diversity as an official representative of Birmingham Pride during LGBT History Month but was unable to do so. It was later rescheduled by the university.[44][45][46]

Personal lifeEdit

Razzaq is openly lesbian and is critical of parents who do not support their child's sexuality.[47] She did not come out to her family until she was 29.[48] She is a Muslim.[49][50]

RecognitionEdit

  • In June 2020, Razzaq was featured on billboards across the UK as part of a 'Pride Inside' campaign to mark Pride Month.[51]
  • In September 2020, Razzaq was awarded an 'LGBTQ+ Community Outstanding Achievement' honorary award by Midlands Zone magazine for her work advocating equality.[52]

FilmographyEdit

  • My God, I'm Queer! (2020) – Directed by Matt Mahmood-Ogston[53][54][55]
  • Lesbian (2021) – Directed by Rosemary Baker[56]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "United we must stand". midlandszone.co.uk. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  2. ^ "South Asian Heritage Month: The history-maker who led Birmingham's Pride Parade". ITV News. 10 August 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  3. ^ "'It's not all celebratory': five Birmingham residents on the Commonwealth". the Guardian. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  4. ^ EDITOR (25 August 2021). "Meet the women transforming Birmingham Pride". DIVA. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  5. ^ "Why Birmingham women are celebrating International Women's Day?". I Am Birmingham. 6 March 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  6. ^ "What it's like to work for us". www.robertwalters.co.uk. Retrieved 1 February 2022.
  7. ^ "LinkedIn". www.linkedin.com. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  8. ^ "8 lesbians of colour you should know about". Stonewall. 25 April 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  9. ^ ABPL. "Institutional racism in Britain a direct result of ill-informed colonial mindsets". www.asian-voice.com. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Birmingham school row: 'This is made out to be just Muslims v gays. It's not'". the Guardian. 21 September 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  11. ^ "Faith In Our Community with Panel Discussion with SEEDS". Shout Festival. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  12. ^ "LGBT+ group reach out to protesting parents who shut down same-sex relationships classes". The Independent. 22 March 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  13. ^ "LGBT people 'never felt more vulnerable' in Birmingham". BBC News. 29 March 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  14. ^ "White middle-class people should not 'point fingers' at parents protesting against equality lessons, diversity campaigner says". The Independent. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  15. ^ ABPL. "'No Outsiders': The fight between education, religion and mis-information..." www.asian-voice.com. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  16. ^ Lathigra, Kalpesh; Khan, Aina J. (3 February 2022). "Why Claiming British Identity Is Complicated". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 February 2022.
  17. ^ Besanvalle, James (15 July 2019). "Birmingham school protests: Muslim women's voices are lost in the debate". Gay Star News. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  18. ^ "These 21 MPs voted against LGBT-inclusive relationship education". PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBT+ news. 28 March 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  19. ^ Storer, Rhi (8 April 2019). "MP John Spellar backs LGBT inclusive education following equality vote gaffe". I Am Birmingham. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  20. ^ Haynes, Jane (7 June 2019). "Councillor urges school protesters – 'call off the demo'". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  21. ^ "General Election 2019: MP deselected over LGBT row stands as independent". BBC News. 7 November 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  22. ^ "Birmingham Labour MP boosts attack on LGBT+ education". Socialist Worker (Britain). 9 June 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  23. ^ "Labour colleagues outraged after MP Roger Godsiff backs anti-LGBT protest". the Guardian. 8 June 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  24. ^ Media, P. A. (8 November 2019). "Ex-Labour MP to run as independent after being dropped over LGBT row". the Guardian. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  25. ^ "Former Labour MP, who backed anti-LGBTQ protesters in Birmingham, fails to win seat". Attitude.co.uk. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  26. ^ Preece, Ashley (25 May 2019). "No Outsiders teacher leads Pride parade after school LGBT protests". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  27. ^ Mahmood, Basit (25 May 2019). "Crowds of LGBT Muslims lead their first ever pride march in Birmingham". Metro. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  28. ^ "Teacher in LGBT classes row leads Birmingham Pride". Sky News. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  29. ^ Admin, S. B. S. (12 June 2019). "In Defence of Equality in Birmingham Schools". Southall Black Sisters. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  30. ^ "Equality lessons row: MP Jess Phillips to speak in solidarity with Birmingham schools tonight". www.midlandszone.co.uk. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  31. ^ Cardwell, Mark (7 July 2020). "Brum's 2022 Commonwealth Games is a reminder of the 'bloody past'". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  32. ^ Haynes, Jane (26 July 2020). "Birmingham 2022 Board member quits to make way for black colleague". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  33. ^ "'It's not all celebratory': five Birmingham residents on the Commonwealth". the Guardian. 8 August 2022. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  34. ^ "Curriculum Liberation Calendar". warwick.ac.uk. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  35. ^ Twitter https://twitter.com/pridehousebham/status/1424792889054437380. Retrieved 21 December 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  36. ^ Mahmood, Basit (7 July 2019). "'Racism is rife in LGBT spaces, that's why we needed Black Pride'". Metro. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  37. ^ Twitter https://mobile.twitter.com/mcsaima/status/1425751683263602696. Retrieved 21 December 2021. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |title= (help)
  38. ^ "Soapbox – To imagine | Ikon". www.ikon-gallery.org. 10 June 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  39. ^ "Hundreds gather in Birmingham to protest over homophobic attacks". BBC News. 14 October 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  40. ^ "Second protest held in Birmingham after homophobic attacks". BBC News. 24 October 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  41. ^ "Protests held in Birmingham over recent wave of LGBTQ+ hate crimes". GAY TIMES. 25 October 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  42. ^ "Rise in hate crime reporting: 'Verbal and physical abuse happens daily'". BBC News. 7 October 2022. Retrieved 21 October 2022.
  43. ^ Clarke, Nathan (21 November 2022). "Faith leaders 'have to stand' with gay community to face off hate". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 24 November 2022.
  44. ^ Vasta, Anisah (17 February 2022). "Guest lecturer claims talk 'axed' over refusal to cross picket line". BirminghamLive. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  45. ^ "Everything that has happened in the first two weeks of strikes in Birmingham". University of Birmingham. 23 February 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  46. ^ "Lecture 'Cancelled' After Guest Speaker Refused to Cross Picket Line | Redbrick News". Redbrick. 5 March 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2022.
  47. ^ "School LGBT protests 'really upsetting'". BBC News. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  48. ^ "South Asian Heritage Month: The history-maker who led Birmingham's Pride Parade". ITV News. 10 August 2021. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  49. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – The Exchange, Faith and Sexuality". BBC. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  50. ^ "What's on TV and radio tonight: Wednesday, August 4". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  51. ^ Staff Reporter (10 June 2020). "1,000 billboards donated across UK to showcase LGBTQ+ people for Pride month". I Am Birmingham. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  52. ^ Zone, Midlands (September 2020). "Midlands Zone Honorary Awards". Midlands Zone.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  53. ^ "My God, I'm Queer". Naz and Matt Foundation. 27 September 2020. Retrieved 21 December 2021.
  54. ^ "Iris Prize Best British Short films head to All 4 | Channel 4". www.channel4.com. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  55. ^ "Stars get glammed up for Asian Media Awards in glittering ceremony in Trafford". www.msn.com. Retrieved 22 December 2021.
  56. ^ "ShortFilmFestival". Film Carnage. Retrieved 22 December 2021.