Gay Muslims in the UK
Posted on June 12, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
Dominic James from www.tomdickandsally.com – takes a look at the lives of gay muslims in the UK.
With the advent of civil partnerships it is easy to forget that significant sections of the gay community in the UK live in fear. There are approximately 125,000 gay Muslims in the UK and most live with feelings of shame and guilt.
Although, leading clerics assert homosexuality to be against the teaching of The Quran, there are tentative signs of the beginnings of an acceptance within the Muslim establishment and the internet provides an important forum for gay Muslims to connect and support each other.
Most Muslims could never imagine that someone praying beside them at their local Mosque could possibly be gay. Islam teaches that homosexuality is evil, and as a result most gay men and lesbians will remain in the closet or choose not to follow their natural instincts. With around 1.25 million Muslims in the UK, it is estimated that the challenge of being homosexual in this community affects around 125,000 individuals every day.
This significant minority is likely to be living with feelings of shame, guilt and fear; aware of how their community will judge them and even ostracise them. Iftekhar Hai, Director of Interfaith Relations for the United Muslims of America, says that homosexuality is unnatural. He points to a verse in the Quoran where the prophet Lut says “For ye practice your lusts on men in preference to women: ye are indeed a people transgressing.”
“According to the scripture, there’s no doubt,” Hai said. “It’s not right and proper.”
However, there are now alternative views being expressed. A number of Muslim scholars are arguing that in the Quoran men are punished for raping and abusing other men, not for engaging in consensual gay sex. Indeed, it is argued that the traditional interpretations were made by heterosexual men, whereas there are now some gay Muslim writers coming out of the closet to redress the balance.
In the context of this oppressive environment, gay Muslims seek alternative means of support in the community. An example I came across recently is the website forum Al-Fatiha, a support group for gay Muslims. A short visit to this site reveals just how deep and complex the issues are. One posting reads:
“I feel like a rag doll in the middle of a tug of war, and for all of you who are in the same boat, you know what a difficult position this puts us in…I’ve come to realize that I cannot be the only one in the world in this predicament. So if you are a lesbian Muslim in a similar situation, I’d love to talk to you, and maybe we could help each other out.”
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Britain’s most senior Muslim, described homosexuality as a harmful, immoral vehicle for spreading disease, so it is no surprise that the internet remains the only place where many gay or bisexual Muslims can reveal their true selves.
As part of a piece on gay Muslim life, The Times contacted members of this community and described it as “underground”. The article reveals a world where thousands of lives have been wrecked by sham marriages, lying, unacknowledged HIV and crippling isolation.
Among a number of powerfully descriptive stories, “Zac”, 24, tells how he has been prevented from living as a gay man. He describes how his parents had forced him into an arranged marriage with his Pakistani cousin in the hope that it would “make me straight”. He is now “trapped” at home with his pregnant wife, overwhelmed by feelings of frustration and resentment towards his parents.
But what about your experience?
The gay support group Al-Fatiha are embarking on a historic survey of Muslims who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning or exploring their gender identity and/or sexual orientation (LGBTIQQ).
The results of the survey will tell Al-Fatiha about the muslim community, people’s experiences and concerns. The results will guide Al-Fatiha’s educational and advocacy work on behalf of LGBTIQQ Muslims, and will be shared with the entire community. To fill out the survey, click here.
It can be difficlt and confusing to come out in a faith which doesn’t allow you the freedom to be who you are, but in terms of the muslim faith, there are number of support groups who offer help and advice, including Imaan and Al-Fatiha.
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