Not There Yet: Inclusion, Acceptance and Support for LGBTQ Muslims

Discussions on LGBTQ inclusion in Muslim communities are one of those things that make my blood boil because in my community, as in some others, Muslims who support same-sex unions and condemn homophobia tend to be disregarded. For many Muslims, the recognition of Muslims who may identify as queer or trans poses a challenge to many of our communities, either for our theological, cultural or political reasons.

For me, speaking about LGBTQ Muslims has brought along a lot of contention among friends and community members. I have been confronted for sharing, writing or speaking about LGBTQs issues like the first lesbian wedding in South Africa, the work of Imam Daayiee Adbullah or the existence of an all-gender-identities-and-sexual-orientations-friendly mosque founded in Toronto by El-Farouk Khaki, Troy Jackson and Laury Silvers.

While many Muslims will just want to “stay out of it,” due to personal beliefs or to the pressure that can exist in our communities, this approach has proven ineffective in preventing violence and discrimination against LGBTQ Muslims. There have been numerous attacks against homosexual Muslims which this year have included the circulation of hateful anti-gay leaflets in the U.K., a Turkish “honour killing,” and the murder of Ahmed Ghoniem in Australia, which has been identified as a possible hate crime.

Without getting into a never-ending theological debate on LGBTQ rights, it somehow seems that the discussion is finally getting Muslims from different perspectives together to condemn homophobia. An excellent Huffington Post article by Junaid Jahangir shows how attitudes are changing among Muslim leaders. Despite their theological views or their personal feelings towards homosexuality, it seems that some Muslim scholars and politicians have come to understand that without a strong stand against homophobia, violence will continue to be justified. Jahangir admits that there is still a lot to do to help LGBTQ Muslims, but he sees the involvement of Muslim leaders and organizations as a big step in the process of ending homophobia.

While I completely agree with Jahangir, I also feel that it is important to recognize that broader community involvement is key, and that shaping the values and beliefs of our communities takes more than few scholars and politicians supporting the cause.  Talking about homophobia and violence in our communities, promoting understanding and, above all, fighting homophobia through education are some of the most powerful ways in which we can start reshaping opinions and values while rejecting violence. [Read more...]