Divinity Faculty lecturer Tim Winter labels homosexuality an “inexplicable aberration” in a hastily removed YouTube video.
UPDATE: Charlie Bell, President of CUSU LGBT+, released a statement this morning:
“Whilst we, like the vast majority of students, absolutely disagree with [Mr Winter's] views on homosexuality, and indeed the tone in which they are made, he is an academic and the university has a duty to allow freedom of speech in its academical disciplines.
“We know that Mr Winter has asked for the video to be taken down; it remains for his college to decide whether these past remarks are incompatible with his current role in the college, especially if it has a pastoral nature, and we are currently in communication with them over this.
“It is our role to be a campaign open to student views and opinions, and to remind the university that whatever academical views might be expressed, LGBT+ students and staff have the same rights as any others, and should be treated with the same respect and decency as any other member of this university, by every member of this university.
“We encourage any students who do not receive this respect or who otherwise need our support to contact us.”
- Last Updated: Thu 2 May 10.21am
An eight-minute clip of Tim Winter, a Cambridge lecturer and a Director of Studies at Wolfson College, has gone viral on Facebook after he referred to homosexuality as an “inexplicable aberration”.
The clip appears to have been taken from his recent DVD, Al-Ghazali on Disciplining the Soul, in which Winter, a practicing Sufi Muslim, discusses at length the Sharia’s “emphatic, unqualified condemnation and prohibition of all forms of homosexual behaviour”.
Drawing from the Sharia but expressing his own personal opinion, Winter, also known as Abdal Hakim Murad, refers to homosexuality as a “denial of [our] manifest creative purpose”, labelling it the “ultimate inversion”.
He goes on to refer to homosexuals as “ignorant people…[who] don’t understand what their bodies are for”.
He adds, “How ignorant can you get? Even the animals know”.
Winter also refutes the fact that genetics in any way legitimises homosexual behaviour, stating that “the fact that somebody is born with a tendency is no moral argument for the actualising of that tendency”.
Qualifying his argument, the Cambridge supervisor continues with reference to arson. Winter points out that many scientists attribute arson to a “genetic configuration”, but it is still seen as a perversion – and then questions the fact that homosexuality is not.
He goes on: “I do not say that the tendency is a sin, but acting upon – gratifying the tendency – is a sin”.
At one point in the clip, Winter utters in Arabic “aslaHahum Allah” (lit. ‘may God fix or reform them’).
Winter goes on to dispute the much-cited Kinsey Reports and their findings, which suggest that around 10% of the US population is homosexual. Winter calls these findings an “absurd estravgance”, labelling Kinsey a “very strange, perverted individual” – possibly a reference to the fact that the late professor was bisexual and polyamourous.
A comparison is also drawn between the act of smoking and homosexuality. Winter argues that homosexuality is worse for one’s health than smoking, even though the latter is perceived as more dangerous and receives coverage in government campaigns.
He also claims that homosexuality “inevitably plays a greater role in sexually transmitted diseases than the more normal promiscuity”.
Commenting on the video, Mr Winter told The Tab, “These are not ‘recent comments’ – I think this clip is from a Q+A I did after a talk in America in the mid-90s, during a fit of youthful zeal. My views and manner of exposition have moved on since then.”
Mr Winter has subsequently had the video taken down.
It should be pointed out that the DVD is still available to buy on islamondemand.com and through iTunes - and that a second video in which he again compares homosexuality to arson, posted below, was recorded in 2011.
In 2006, Winter also published an article in which he wrote that “it is unarguable that homosexual acts are a metaphysical as well as a moral crime”.
Despite the removal of the latest footage, reaction from the student body has been unmitigated outrage.
Alex Bradley-Stitch, a Law student from Wolfson, told The Tab: “Everyone is entitled to their views and opinions; I have mine and I don’t expect people to like them.
“However, when you take a platform, and YouTube is THE platform now, you have to be mindful of repercussions. Here, Wolfson’s reputation is at risk at, and however brief my time here, that makes me sad and ashamed.”
Another student, supervised by Winter earlier this year, commented, “He’s an extremely intellectual man, or at least appears so.”
He continued: “I wrote an essay on gender and the feedback did not seem biased in any way. I would never have had him down as someone who would come out with something like this. I’m very shocked.”
The Tab has approached Wolfson College for comment but as yet has received no response.
It will no doubt be a matter of debate how far Mr Winter’s views are protected by laws guaranteeing freedom of religious expression; the matter is complicated further by the fact that Mr Winter – as a Director of Studies – plays a pastoral role in college life.
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