On Tuesday evening I attended the election hustings at St James’ Church, organised by West Hampstead Life. With the help of Louise, a close friend of Naz and mine, the organisers of the hustings allowed me to ask the final question of the evening – a question directed at parliamentary candidates for Labour (Tulip Siddiq), Liberal Democrats (Maajid Nawaz), Conservatives (Simon Marcus), Green Party (Rebecca Johnson) and UKIP.
My question was simple –
What can each of you do more to stop homophobia within religious communities?
Each politician answered in turn. My question, and the understanding what happened to my darling Naz, was picked up by the local Camden New Journal newspaper and reported on the front page yesterday:
“THE partner of a doctor who killed himself after being confronted by relatives about their gay relationship took the daunting step of standing up at packed election hustings and directly asking parliamentary candidates to help him halt homophobia among religious families.
An audience of up to 200 fell quiet as Matthew Ogston told of the tragic circumstances in which he lost his partner of 13 years, Dr Nazim Mahmood, just two days after he had come out to his Muslim family.
A coroner’s inquest heard the pressure had contributed to the 34-year-old’s decision to jump from a balcony at their flat in West End Lane, West Hampstead.
Mr Ogston apologised to the candidates lined up on the stage at the Sheriff Centre, the community facilities at St James’ Church in West Hampstead, if he was being “inappropriate”, adding: “As many of you know my fiancé passed away outside Barclays Bank last July and the coroner ruled there was depression coming out of the religious views of his family. My question is: what can you do to stop this happening to someone else? Until last July, many people didn’t think this was an issue, but it’s an issue across the nation.”
The hustings organised by West Hampstead Life blogsite was the best attended of the local campaign so far, with up to 200 people filling the seats.
Labour’s Tulip Siddiq told the hall that she had been to Dr Mahmood’s funeral service. She named Labour’s five Muslim MPs who had voted for gay marriage, but added: “Whichever party we are from, we will support you and champion gay rights.”
Start listening from about 1:51:00:
Matt set up the Naz and Matt Foundation in memory of his soulmate and fiancé, Naz, who passed away two days after being confronted about his sexuality by his religious parents. It was the first time that they knew their son was gay, in a relationship with Matt for 13 years and that they were planning to get married.