SOAS lecturer standing as MEP for far-right AfD accused of Islamophobia, homophobia and sexism

Dr. Gunnar Beck, a reader in Law at SOAS, University of London, is facing protests after it emerged that he is standing for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) party in the European Parliament elections.

The AfD’s manifesto for this week’s elections features a two-page section entitled “Islam – Danger for Europe,” and proposes that same-sex couples should not enjoy the rights that heterosexual couples do.

It is no longer a secret that Beck is standing on this manifesto, and his campaign has been marred by protests and criticisms from all angles.

Last week, it emerged that Beck may have exaggerated his academic credentials, appearing on ballot papers as “Prof Dr Gunnar Beck,” despite not having a professorship from any university. The Ministry of Science in North Rhine-Westphalia, where Beck is based, told The Guardian that his position as Reader could not be equated to that of a Professor.

Staff at the SOAS School of Law have also condemned Beck’s candidacy, telling their students that they were “dismayed” at the news. They said: “We regard the AfD’s views as utterly incompatible with our basic values of equality, acceptance, and non-discrimination, and with our commitment to ensure dignity and respect for all students and staff at SOAS.”

Students have since staged a demonstration in Bloomsbury calling for Beck’s resignation or removal from SOAS. Echoing the comments made by staff at the School of Law, the Students’ Union told demonstrators of reported instances where Beck had made students feel uncomfortable in his classroom.

One student told demonstrators that Beck had labelled trans-women “men in dresses.” He has reportedly made jokes about rape and on one occasion likened himself to Adolf Hitler. Students also claimed Beck has made comments, similar to those of his party leader, that Holocaust-era Germany was just a “speck of bird shit” in the history of the country.

This comes amid wider reports of AfD Holocaust denial.

Anti-AfD poster outside SOAS | Credit: Author

Further concerns have been raised over the manifesto on which Beck is standing.

The party argues that Islam is a “Danger to Europe” as it conflicts with the continent’s “Judeo-Christian history”. They say that Islam is a threat to gender equality, despite the same manifesto calling for the abolition of Gender Mainstreaming, which was introduced after the 1985 World Conference on Women to ensure that public policies faced scrutiny so as not to negatively impact people of any gender.

On LGBTQ+ rights, the party writes: “Other forms of marriage than between a man and woman … are neither comparable to [heterosexual] marriage nor should be promoted. The AfD believes that policies affecting families should be based on classic models, in the father and mother having a long-lasting and mutual responsibility and concern for their children.” Similarly, they argue that LGBTQ+ visibility in Germany “threatens the existence of society and the family, and makes children insecure of their sexual identities.”

The AfD is a member party of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group, whose president is Nigel Farage. Germany’s EU elections are on 26 May.

London Student asked Beck about his personal views on Islam and LGBTQ+ rights, but he did not respond before publication.

Will is London Student's Features Editor. He has recently completed a BA History at SOAS, and you might find him hiding in a library around Bloomsbury.

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