Showing posts with label Muslim. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Muslim. Show all posts

September 12, 2018

What is The Reality About Islam Prohibiting Homosexuality and Transgenderism

Many LGBTs face discrimination, humiliation and hate-crimes simply by being who there are. Many are denied jobs because of their appearance and some are kicked out of their homes in their teens when their families discovered their gender identity or sexual orientation.
This violence spills to non-LGBTs as well. In school, kids who display non-gender conforming behaviour, whether they are LGBT or not, for example effeminate boys are often bullied and beaten up.
In a recent Seremban case, a transwoman was brutally assaulted by eight men and was hospitalised in critical condition. Recently, two women, accused of being lesbians were publicly caned and fined by the Kelantan Shariah court.
Religious institutions and their clerics give out the message that it is okay to punish and harm LGBTs. Many Muslims agree that LGBTs deserve punishment because of these three main beliefs:
1) LGBT di laknat Allah (LGBT is cursed by Allah)
2) LGBT berdosa/haram (LGBT is sinful/haram)
3) LGBT bertuhankan nafsu (LGBTs are lustful).
First of all let me clarify. LGBTs do not chose to be who they are. I know because I am one. I am a transgender and a Muslim. Being a transgender has nothing to do with lust. It is my gender identity.
I did not chose to be a transgender.
As for back as I can remember, I have been this way, and it took me a long time to accept myself. It was only my faith in God, that I did not try to commit suicide due to all the negative reactions from society. They say Allah Most High condemns me. It is not Allah who condemns me but unthinking humans without compassion.
To be true to my faith, I have researched on what really Islam has to say about people like me. And I want to share with you what I found from the works of distinguished Muslim scholars who have contributed greatly to the tenets of Islam. I have also given the references of my sources at the end of this article.
In the hadiths (sayings of the Prophet), the terminology for a gender variant individual (transgender or effeminiate men) is a mukkanath. The mukkanath was recognised in 5th Century Arabia as effeminate males who may or may not have lust for women.
According to respected Sunni scholar and Hadith collector Imam An-Nawawi:
A mukhannath is the one (“male”) who carries in his movements, in his appearance and in his language the characteristics of a woman. There are two types; the first is the one in whom these characteristics are innate, he did not put them on by himself, and therein is no guilt, no blame and no shame, as long as he does not perform any (illicit) act or exploit it for money (prostitution etc).
The second type acts like a woman out of immoral purposes and he is the sinner and blameworthy.
It is important to differentiate the two, the first category are those whose effeminate qualities are in-born and do not have sexual attraction towards women. Hence, there is no blame, guilt or shame. 
The other category are males who are lustful of women and who impersonate women in order to gain access into women's spaces deceitfully. The second category is the one that is often quoted by anti-LGBT Muslims who said that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had cursed LGBT.
They often rely on this hadith: “The Prophet, peace be upon him, cursed the effeminate men, who are males, and the male-impersonators, who are women, and he said: Evict them from your houses, and the Prophet, peace be upon him, evicted such-and-such...” — Bukhari, Authentic Traditions, Book LXXII (Dress), Chapter 62: (774)
The words “who are males” and “who are women” are obviously redundant here because the grammar does not really require them to be used.
Masculine gender is already provided grammatically by the endings on the words “impersonators” and “effeminates,” and feminine gender is already provided in the words “impersonators” and “male-pretenders.”
Given the emphasis, the curse is specifically directed only at “true males” (and “true women”) who deceitfully impersonate with the ulterior motive of gaining access to unsuspecting women or to the wives of unsuspecting husbands.
Hence, it is important to understand the historical context during Prophet Muhammad's time, where gender variant individuals were recognised and accepted as part of the fabric of society. The Prophet Muhammad did not punish gender variant people nor did he try to cure them. In one hadith, the Prophet was also recorded to have saved the life of a mukhannath, an effeminate man, when the others wanted to kill him.
Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 41, Number 4910: Narrated AbuHurayrah:
A mukhannath who had dyed his hands and feet with henna was brought to the Prophet (peace be upon him). He asked: What is the matter with this man? He was told: Apostle of Allah! he affects women's get-up. So he ordered regarding him and he was banished to an-Naqi'. The people said: Apostle of Allah! should we not kill him? He said: I have been prohibited from killing people who pray.
In the Quran, Allah talks about his creation that comes in many colours and diversity (Fatir 35:27-28). The Quran asks us to be compassionate and merciful and learn from each other our differences, because if Allah wanted, He could have easily created all of us of One people.
“If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind One People: but they will not cease to be diverse.” (Hood: 118)
Another Quranic verse has been intepreted by some scholars to show that the Quran recognises that there are some people who are “non-procreative,” thus neither male nor female:
“To Allah belongs the dominion over the heavens and the earth. It creates what It wills. It prepares for whom It wills females, and It prepares for whom It wills males.”
“Or It marries together the males and the females, and It makes those whom It wills to be non-procreative. Indeed He is the Knower, the Powerful.” (Al-Shura:49-50)
This leads to the fact that Islam recognises khunsa, or intersex, people who have both male and female genitals and are usually non-reproductive. Many people condemn LGBT, but they don't really know what it means. Within the LGBTs, there are also intersexed people whom Muslims condemn too easliy.
There are many variations, shades of khunsa. Some have both male and female genitals very clearly apparent, but most intersex have slightly more of one and less of the other. Some appear physically of one sex, but have the internal organs of the other sex.
Scientific and medical knowledge in endocrinology and genetics have revealed that what we call gender or sex morphology comes in shades, rather than black or white, depending on how you catergorise gender traits.
Since the Olympics introduced gender testing, they have had a surprisingly hard time determining a standard sex or gender test on female atheletes, the rationale being to eliminate men who pose as women to compete unfairly.
Olympians who have female genitals and appear female in all appearance have been found to have the XY “male chromosomes” or XX/XY chromosomes and many other variations.
Some who are clearly female in their appearence with XX chromosomes have unusually high naturally occuring testosterone level that might give them an “unfair” advantage to other women, and some have been found to have semblance of male internal reporductive organs whom the athelete themselves were not aware of.
This has caused much embarrassment to the atheletes that many have decried the use of gender testing on female atheletes.
Forn and an article about complexity of gender testing by the Olympics committee, click here.
Estimates of the number of intersex people vary widely, ranging from one in 5,000 to one in 60 because experts dispute which of the myriad conditions to include and how to tally them accurately.
At the top end, the estimate of 1 in 60 includes a very large population. Perhaps that is why khunsa or intersex
people are recognised and accepted in Islam, and Islam gives them the right to chose their gender.
I would just like to leave readers with this verse among many from the Quran, where we are reminded to have compassion and mercy and not to shame, revile and humiliate another.
“O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the latter are better than the former. Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that latter are better than the former. Nor taunt one another, nor revile another by nicknames....” (Hujrat: 11).
And finally, Islam is a religion of peace and mercy, and Allah is the Creator of all including all the diversity of humans, creatures and plants. As Muslims, we humbly say that we may not understand everything, so we leave all judgement to Allah, who in His infinte wisdom knows best.
1. Skovgaard-Peterson, Jakob. Defining Islam for the Egyption State. Muftis and Fatwas of Dar-Al Ifta. (pg 329)
2. Rowson, K. Everett (Oktober 1991). “The Effeminates Awal Madinah.” Jurnal American Oriental Society (Oriental American Society) 111 (4): 671-693
3. Queer Sexuality and Identity in the Quran and Hadith
4. Al Muqni, Matan. al Sharh al Kabeer. volume 7 347–348.
5. Bukhari, Hadith Sahih, Book LXXII (Pakaian), Bab 62: (774)

January 6, 2018

How LGBT Chechnya-Muslims Exiles Cope

Abdul Kadr's wife found out he was gay the night his relatives came to kill him.
She hid him inside the home in Grozny, Chechnya, where they lived with their four young children, and told him she'd stand by him.
"She saved my life," says Abdul Kadr, a silver-haired former businessman in his 40s.
Being married to a woman was how he hid his eight-year relationship with another man, also a married father. It was a way to survive in Chechnya, a largely Muslim southwestern republic of Russia where gay men are reportedly sent to torture camps and even killed.
Abdul Kadr is not his real name. He chose it for himself as protection from what he calls "the long arm of the Chechen secret police," which he fears will reach him even in the Netherlands, where he sought asylum early last year. A recent Human Rights Watch report suggests Chechen authorities are able to track down gay Chechens seeking asylum in Europe.

The Netherlands is one of a handful of countries in Europe offering protection to gay Chechens.
I meet Abdul Kadr outside the Amsterdam train station. He's with Artur, another Chechen who has also chosen a new name out of fear for his safety.
Artur says the Chechen secret police force gay men into outing their friends.
"The police electrocuted my friends, beat them, denied them food and water," says Artur, a mop-haired, 25-year-old former student with bright blue eyes.
The suspected gay detainees "slept on the ground, on concrete, while the drug dealers and terrorists slept in beds," he says.
'They are still afraid'
After spending their entire lives hiding their true selves, Abdul Kadr and Artur still find it nearly impossible to talk about their sexuality, even in a country that in 2001 became the first in the world to allow same-sex marriage.
Abdul Kadr found himself giving monosyllabic answers during a crucial immigration interview.
"I couldn't overcome my fear and give them details, even if it meant my life was hanging by a thread," he says. "I was terrified."
Listening with a grimace on his face is Sandro Kortekaas, who runs LGBT Asylum Support, a volunteer organization that assists refugees in the Netherlands.

Sandro Kortekaas runs LGBT Asylum Support, a volunteer organization that assists refugees in the Netherlands.
Joanna Kakissis/NPR
Refugees who come from countries that crack down on the lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender communities have rarely spoken publicly about their lives.
"So when you have the Dutch immigration service [asking] you to tell your whole story, and if there is something that is not good, it means they can say, 'Sorry, we don't think you are gay,'" Kortekaas says. "That's horrible."
Abdul Kadr says he would be killed if he's sent back to Chechnya, where President Ramzan Kadyrov claims everyone in the country is heterosexual.
One Chechen who came out publicly as gay sought asylum in Germany but was denied and deported back to Chechnya last September. Movsar Eskarkhanov publicly retracted his claims that he was assaulted for being gay and now blames his epilepsy medicine for his coming out. After returning to Chechnya, he apologized publicly, like others who criticize Kadyrov.
The Dutch Immigration and Naturalization Service does not register the sexual orientation of those who apply for asylum, so it's hard to know how many LGBT asylum-seekers have been rejected.
"It can be, for example, that people have not given credible statements regarding their identities or nationalities," says Annick Oerlemans, a Dutch asylum officer. "It's really an individual assessment in every individual case. We have interviews with LGBT asylum-seekers basically every day, I think. And we're actually trained to make people feel as comfortable as we possibly can in order to get them to speak."
An Amsterdam nonprofit, Secret Garden, tries to help LGBT asylum-seekers open up even before those immigration interviews.
Elias Karam, a project manager at Secret Garden, says he works with traumatized refugees who are often self-hating because of the abuse they faced in their home countries.
"When it comes to their homosexuality," Karam says, "they just don't know how to talk. They are still afraid."

Elias Karam (left) and Carla Pieters work with Secret Garden, an Amsterdam nonprofit that tries to help LGBT asylum-seekers open up, even before the immigration interviews.
Joanna Kakissis/NPR
Every week, scores of asylum-seekers from the Middle East, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa gather at Secret Garden's old-timey dining hall to meet newcomers and share stories over homemade spicy chicken and fattoush salad.
At one recent meeting, held largely in Arabic and English, a transgender woman from Lebanon admits that she had a panic attack walking outside in makeup and high heels for the first time.
Others talk about beatings, rejection and isolation.
Some have fled Dutch refugee camps after homophobic attacks.
"They sleep in the woods because they are afraid of men from their own countries, who attack them and pee in their beds," says Carla Pieters, a Secret Garden volunteer who hosts LGBT refugees in her Amsterdam home. "They are afraid to trust anyone."
'What we left behind'
Abdul Kadr and Artur, the two Chechens, are working out their own experiences with Kortekaas from LGBT Asylum Support, who communicates with them with the help of a translator from Kyrgyzstan.

Abdul Kadr and Artur are Muslim and say they pray daily. "I'm always fighting with myself over my sexuality," Artur says, "but I still believe God loves me."
Though he and Abdul Kadr no longer live in constant fear, they are lonely, isolated and wary of reaching out to other Russian speakers.
Abdul Kadr is still waiting for a decision on his asylum request. He wonders if the Dutch think it's strange that he wants so badly to reunite with his wife and children.
"She's my best friend, and I can't live without my children," he says. "Gay people can be parents here in Holland."
Artur has received asylum but says he often dreams about something that seems suicidal — returning to Chechnya.
"I was never looking for freedom to be openly gay," he admits, lowering his eyes. "I didn't want my family to have any problems because of me. And now they have huge problems. My mom is literally losing her mind because the police come to our house every day."
He's too afraid to contact his family directly. A friend told him about his mother's nervous breakdown.
"I want to apologize to her because I've ruined her life," Artur says, breaking into sobs.
"It's not your fault," Kortekaas says, patting his back. "Don't punish yourself."
Abdul Kadr looks away and wipes away his own tears.
"We fled Chechnya because we did not want to die," he says. "But we cannot stop thinking about what we left behind."
Rosanne Kropman contributed reporting.

September 3, 2017

The Complicated Lives of Gay Muslims and Good Moms Always Stick by Their Sons

 There were so happy and so proud being the first but being the first brings responsibilities and stressful situations

We published the picture and the story of this Gay Muslim couple getting married. They were times of unmeasurable happiness but also earthquakes from the Muslim community 

Dressed in golden South Asian attire, the men embraced in front of smiling guests and eager photographers. Jahed’s family was noticeably missing in images and videos circulated online. Within days, the couple’s post-nuptial celebration was abruptly cut short as they received acid attack threats.

Across the world and nearly simultaneously, there was another wedding involving a Muslim family and their gay son. In a reception hall in Vancouver, a Muslim mother, Siddika, stood by her son, Ali Reza, smiling widely as he wed his beloved —  a man named Paul. In contrast to Jahed, who said his family found his wedding “too embarrassing” to attend, Ali Reza stood shoulder-to-shoulder with his parents.

Over the next week, photos from the happy day swept around the world — to condemnation from within the close-knit community of Khoja Muslims, an ethnic group within the minority Shi‘a sect of Islam. They fiercely objected to the family’s apparent unrepentant joy. 

One leader in the Khoja community wrote, “…it is the duty of every committed Muslim to condemn this despicable deed” in a viral message on WhatsApp. Within days, the 53-year-old mother, whose last name we are withholding for safety reasons, sent community members a two-page letter, saying she was “forced to resign” as secretary general of the North American Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities Organization, an Ontario-based organization that represents American and Canadian Muslims of Khoja heritage.

In the poignant letter expressing support for her son, the mother wrote, “My stance today is not just as a devoted mother, but as a human being who has painfully observed how the community has usurped the rights of God’s creation in the name of Islam and passed judgment.”

The controversy over this marriage showcases how Muslim communities are grappling with social issues as they assimilate in the West.

A Geography of Taboo

Homosexuality remains taboo in most Muslim communities, with a 2013 Pew global survey on Muslim views chronicling overwhelming disapproval of homosexuality in all Muslim-majority countries and territories surveyed. However, Siddika’s story also reveals the dichotomy between the rigid views of many Muslim leaders and the complex, diverse and nuanced perspectives of ordinary Muslims, especially those living in the West. 

The family’s ordeal highlights the unique challenges, but complex circumstances, many Muslims face when they come out as gay or are perceived as gay. Ten countries currently have death penalty provisions for homosexual activity —  all of them are Muslim-majority. Still, a 2014 Pew survey found that a higher percentage of American Muslims support same-sex marriage, than did respondents who identified as evangelical Christian, Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness.

Zahra Khakoo, a 24-year-old Khoja in Australia, said the incident shines an uncomfortable light on an intergenerational and geographic clash of values that goes beyond views on homosexuality.

“The idea that most people in the community have is that you cannot be a person of your own,” she said. One’s “shameful” actions reflect first on the parents, then the Jamaat, or community, and eventually the entire worldwide Khoja community, she said. “I think [Siddika] did the right thing. I think what she did is most defiantly Islamic. She did her job as a mother to support her son.”

Ani Zonneveld is the founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values, a LGBTQ-affirming, faith-based human rights organization. She believes the Vancouver story shows the need for organizations like PFLAG, formerly known as Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, to support Muslim families who suffer from heteronormative religious interpretations that she called “un-Islamic” in spirit. 

Usama Hasan, a London-based imam and theological scholar who argues that homosexuality is not explicitly condemned in Islamic tradition, said, “Whatever one’s views and interpretations, we should applaud the brave and compassionate voice of the mother who correctly reminded us that mercy is the essential teaching of the Qur’an.”

The journey of Siddika’s family from arriving in Canada to celebrating the wedding of her eldest son is emblematic of the challenges —  and triumphs —  of integration and assimilation. In the 1980s, Siddika and her husband, both born in East Africa of Khoja stock, arrived in Canada from England. Soon after, Siddika gave birth to her first-born child, her son, Ali Reza. Khojas are an ethnoreligious group of Muslims with ancestral roots in India, totaling several hundred thousand worldwide today, who settled in East Africa in the 19th century. In recent decades, many have immigrated to Europe, North America, and Australia.

In her resignation letter obtained by INTO, Siddika wrote she was “shocked, devastated, and heartbroken” when Ali Reza came out ten years ago, at the age of 20, as gay. “He said he had known about it since the age of 16 and that he had spent countless hours praying to God to change this feeling in him because this was not a life he wanted for himself,” she wrote. “I went through everything from ‘why me’ to countless hours of prayers, going to all the ziyarats [pilgrimages], consultation with alims [theologians] to see the light and get guidance from Him,” Siddika said the family grew to support Ali Reza.

“For us, this is about standing up for Ali’s God-given right to live a life that would not be filled with the burden of religious guilt and compounded by communal scorn and societal shame,” Siddika’s statement continued. “In moments of darkness, I realized that the only way for Ali to live an authentic life and not have to hide and fear rejection was to give him space to reach his human potential as God’s creation.”

With this embrace of her son, Siddika stood beside Ali Reza, 30, on July 2, as he married his partner Paul, 27, in a civil ceremony at a local university hall in Vancouver. Siddika and her family declined to be interviewed.

In Instagram photos, the newly-wed couple beam as they pose happily with their family and friends, sharing their first dance and cutting a two-tier cake.

The Happiness and Backlash

A week later, an anonymous WhatsApp user spread news of the wedding in the Khoja community, with the mother’s title in leadership. A backlash ensued. Many writers cited stories and verses from the Qur’an to condemn homosexuality. Other WhatsApp messages excoriated the family and called for the mother to be immediately removed from leadership. Some demanded that Siddika and her family even be declared non-Muslims or apostates.

Khoja organizations and mosques around the world heaped further humiliation on the family, issuing condemnations against the family. Khoja organizations and leaders based in Africa and South Asia issued the strongest condemnations while ones based in the West used softer or more neutral language. This division parallels the Anglican church’s struggle in reconciling the ongoing opposition to homosexuality sustained by many member churches in developing nations.

The Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of Dar es Salaam, a mosque based in Tanzania, wrote that it “vehemently condemns this disgusting act to its fullest,” noting that the family members should be “willingly or forcefully” removed from leadership.

Ten days after the wedding, an anonymous user posted an online campaign on, calling for the resignation of the Khoja North American community organization’s leadership. It garnered hundreds of signatures. The next day, Siddika sent her resignation letter to the president of the Khoja community organization.

In the statement’s concluding paragraph, Siddika asks, “If Ali Reza was your son, what would you do?”

Three days later, the World Federation of Khoja Shia Ithna-Asheri Muslim Communities, a U.N.-recognized non-profit organization, issued a statement that called regional groups to “select and elect leaders who believe and practice in the values” of Islam. The Khoja organizations did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

While many have criticized —  and even cursed —  the Muslim mother who stood by her gay son in his happiest moments, others, particularly young Khojas in the West, continue to support the family in private. Their support reflects currents of social change in the community who have settled across four continents over the last two centuries.


By Andy Ngo who is a graduate student in political science at Portland State University, studying Islamism and its intersection with women’s issues. Follow him on Twitter here.

July 12, 2017

Gay Muslim Couple Get married in UK

Jahed Choudhury, right, and Sean Rogan wore traditional Muslim dress
 as they tied the knot

 A newly married couple are hoping “to show the whole world that you can be gay and Muslim” after their wedding in the West Midlands.

Jahed Choudhury and Sean Rogan married in Walsall, in what could be the UK’s first same-sex marriage involving a Muslim partner.

Footage showed the couple dressed in traditional Bangladeshi attire to say their vows while surrounded by loved ones at the town’s registry office. 
Mr Choudhury, 24, told the Express and Star he felt like the “black sheep” of his Bangladeshi Muslim family, being bullied at school, attacked by other Muslims and banned from his local mosque.

He said he attempted to change his sexual orientation and went on religious pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh but became suicidal and attempted to kill himself before meeting Mr Rogan.

They started living together in 2015 and Mr Choudhury proposed on his husband’s birthday last year.
Mr Choudhury said: “This is about showing people I don't care, my family doesn't want to come on the day, they just don't want to see it, it's too embarrassing for them.

“They think it's a disease and can be cured, some of my family still call it a phase."

“I want to say to all people going through the same thing that's it's okay – we're going to show the whole world that you can be gay and Muslim.”

Mr Rogan, 19, told the Express and Star he would stand by his husband “every step of the way”.

“Being gay’s not wrong, it’s not ‘a phase’,” he added. “People just need a bit of support.” 

A spokesperson for the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that the religion of spouses is not routinely recorded at non-religious ceremonies.

The number of same-sex religious marriages recorded in 2014, the most recent year of available data, was too small for a breakdown to be made available.

The Muslim Council of Britain, which represents more than 500 organisations and mosques, was among the religious bodies including the Church of England opposing the legalisation of same-sex marriage in England and Wales in 2013. 

Equal marriage was later legalised in Scotland but remains illegal in Northern Ireland, where campaigners are demanding change amid concern over the alliance between the Government and Democratic Unionist Party.


March 2, 2017

LGBT Jewish New Yorkers Support Their Muslims Brothers

Members of Beit Simchat Torah support vigil, left, greeted a woman outside the Islamic Center on Washington Square South. Photos by Tequila Minsk

 During the presidential inauguration, while some politicians and clergy rallied and performed civil disobedience at Trump Tower in Midtown, Beit Simchat Torah’s Jewish-Muslim outreach initiative, House of Peace, gathered to greet worshippers at the N.Y.U. Islamic Center, at 268 Thompson St., just south of Washington Square Park.
Harold Levine, co-chairperson of House of Peace explained, “This is a response to the alarming rise of anti-Muslim sentiment seemingly provoked by statements during the campaigns.”
On Friday afternoons, Muslims gather for Junnah, a big prayer service — the most heavily attended during the week — that includes the weekly sermon. This is why Beith Simchat Torah, an L.G.B.T. congregation located on W. 30th St., chose Fridays for these vigils of positivity.
The Islamic Center serves hundreds of Muslims — N.Y.U. students, faculty and employees, as well as visiting Muslims or those living in the neighborhood.
The House of Peace action — welcoming worshippers as they arrive and staying to greet them they as they leave — has taken place several times starting the Friday after the election.
“Going forward, we will continue this weekly,” Levin said. “The reaction has been overwhelming. We get hugs, handshakes and thank yous. The worshippers photograph us and want to be photographed with us.”
Personal stories are shared between the congregants of the two religious institutions and it’s been a chance for members of the Jewish congregants to learn more about the Muslim community in New York City.
“Most importantly, it’s made everyone who participated feel they’re doing something positive in a difficult time,” the Beit Simchat Torah Web site notes. Levine elaborated that educational activities for members about Islam are in the works, as well as developing other ideas for outreach.
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum writes on the shul’s Web site: “We need to deepen our engagement with, and knowledge of, our Muslim neighbors here in NYC. We know that one of the first targets of institutional and individualized hate already in NYC and elsewhere is the Muslim community. We must study Islam and become better educated so we can engage in sophisticated discussions.”
Last month, the congregation also joined in a larger prayer service at Foley Square to protest Donald Trump’s travel ban. As nearly 80 Muslims prayed, other religious groups and friends encircled them in solidarity.


December 17, 2016

Educational Animated Vid on Gays Getting Arrested Goes Viral in Morocco

An animated video educating gay Moroccans on their rights if they are arrested has gone viral.

Collectif Aswat, a non-profit organisation calling for Morocco to repeal its homosexuality ban, created the video as a "tutorial" for gay couples on what to do if they are accused or caught by authorities.

The animation, first posted on 10 December, International Day of Human Rights, has now been watched more than 30,000 times.
It shows two men being caught and arrested by police officers, who then mistreat and humiliate them.

Homosexual activity is punishable in Morocco by up to three years in jail. A divisive law - known as Article 489 - has been the subject of several protests.
Rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have demanded Moroccan authorities to decriminalize homosexuality, calling Article 489 a violation of international human rights law.

November 14, 2016

Trump Changes theCore Fight for Civil Rights on Muslims and LGBT in the US


For the combatants in America’s long-running culture wars, the triumph of Donald Trump and congressional Republicans was stunning — sparking elation on one side, deep dismay on the other.

American Muslims are reeling after the election of Trump, whose campaign was rife with anti-Islamic rhetoric and proposals that included banning Muslims from entering the country and heightened surveillance of mosques across the nation.
Meanwhile, advocates of LGBT rights and abortion rights fear setbacks. The election outcome has emboldened the antiabortion movement and breathed new life into the religious right’s campaign for broad exemptions from same-sex marriage and other laws.

For Muslims living in the United States, there is significant fear, along with some reports of harassment; one hijab-wearing student at San Diego State University said she was briefly choked by suspects who made remarks about Trump’s victory.
‘‘There are lots and lots of people who aren’t going out of the house,’’ said Eboo Patel, a Muslim who heads the Interfaith Youth Core, a Chicago-based organization that works with colleges and government officials to build interreligious relationships.

At New York University late last week, hundreds of people sat shoulder-to-shoulder on a grand staircase of a student center to express solidarity after the word ‘‘Trump!’’ was scrawled on the door of a Muslim prayer space at the school.

Students spoke of friends who wore headscarves or other traditional clothing and were afraid to take public transportation home for fear of being harassed.

Sana Mayat, a 21-year-old senior who wears the hijab, said the election made her realize ‘‘there was a large part of this country that didn’t want me here.’’

‘‘There is an intense state of anxiety about the future,’’ said Rami Nashashibi, a parent of three and executive director of Chicago’s Inner-City Muslim Action Network. ‘‘I grappled with the conversation I had to have with my children.’’

The outcome was especially bitter after an unprecedented voter registration drive by American Muslims, including get-out-the-vote sermons at mosques and the creation of a political action committee, Emerge USA, to mobilize Arabs and Muslims.

Enas Almadhwahi, a 28-year-old Yemeni immigrant who has been in the US since 2008, became a citizen this year and voted for the first time.

To mark the occasion, she brought her 7-year-old daughter, along with some coworkers. The next day, when she told her daughter Trump had won, the girl cried.

Trump’s administration could radically reshape the Justice Department, which has been an ally under President Obama in protecting Muslim civil rights. Trump could also repeal a key Obama program that prevents the deportation of some immigrants, including Muslims, living in the country illegally.

Religious conservatives have been heartened by the election of Trump.

Kelly Shackelford, head of First Liberty Institute, a legal group that specializes in religious freedom cases, said the environment for his cause will be transformed from ‘‘brutal’’ under the Obama administration to friendly given GOP control of both Congress and the White House.

His clients include two Christian bakers in Oregon who were fined for refusing to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding.

David Crary

June 18, 2016

Muslim Views on Gays are Complex but Their Teachings Have to Change

 The new american-muslim family
As one of a tiny number of openly gay imams in the world, Daayiee Abdullah has felt the sting of rebuke from fellow Muslims. No good Muslim can be gay, they say. And traditional schools of Islamic law consider homosexuality a grave sin.

But Abdullah, a Washington, D.C. lawyer who studied Islam in the Middle East, says that mainstream Islamic teaching on gays must change.

“It has to or it will die from its harshness or rigidity,” Abdullah said. “The way it is presently understood, it rots the heart and decays the brain.”

In the days since last’s week massacre at an Orlando gay nightclub, in which a Muslim man killed 49 people, attention has focused on homophobia among Muslims. And gay Muslims have talked about living between that rock of anti-gay anger and the hard place of Islamophobia that only increased after the Orlando attacks.

Investigators are considering whether Omar Mateen was at least partially motivated by his inability to accept that he was gay. Mateen’s father said his son was disgusted by two men he saw kissing days before the rampage, and that it was up to God to deal with gays — not his son.

Two afghanis find refuge on love and each other
Attitudes towards LBGT people in Muslim communities are complex, and far from universally anti-gay.

Some Muslims, like Abdullah, are welcoming what they see as an opening within their communities to address anti-gay attitudes. Several groups supportive of gay Muslims have sprung up within the U.S. in past years, including Muslims for Progressive Values and the Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity.

And young Muslims who often feel differently about homosexuality than their elders are increasingly speaking out in support of gay rights, as religion scholar Reza Aslan and comedian Hasan Minaj did in an open letter to American Muslims after last year’s Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

Others are pointing toward the Quran and a history of relative tolerance.

“In 1858 the Ottoman Empire decriminalized homosexuality, 100 years before they did so in the West,” said Abdullah, referring to the empire that ruled over Turkey and much of the present-day Middle East in the 15th and 16th centuries. Its official religion was Islam.

But Abdullah is under no illusions about the strength of homophobia within modern Muslim cultures.

In the U.S., a 2014 Pew Research Center study shows, Muslim Americans are less accepting of homosexuality than Americans as a whole: 47 percent of U.S. Muslims said it should be discouraged and 45 percent said it should be accepted.

But they were not the religious group that was most disapproving: Evangelical Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons oppose homosexuality by larger margins.

Abroad the picture is starker. And a 2013 Pew global study of Muslims showed overwhelming disapproval of homosexuality. In only three of the nearly 40 countries surveyed do as many as one-in-ten Muslims say that homosexuality is morally acceptable: Uganda (12%), Mozambique (11%) and Bangladesh (10%).

And almost all of the 10 countries that allow the death penalty for same-sex sexual relations are Muslim-majority nations. The president of one of those nations, Iran, has denied that gay people exist in his country.

“In Iran we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at Columbia University in 2007. “ I do not know who has told you we have it.”

The gay capital of the Middle East is in the Jewish state of Israel: Tel Aviv advertises itself as a safe, vibrant destination for LGBT tourists, and attracts gays from the Palestinian territories and other societies where it is unthinkable to be openly gay. But even in Israel, a Jewish teenage girl died after an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man went on a stabbing spree last year at Jerusalem’s gay pride parade.

While Muslim nations such as Iran and Saudi Arabia have legislated violent punishment for gays, there are no laws against gay sex in either Jordan and Lebanon.You can find gay-friendly bars in Beirut, Amman and Istanbul.

And because socialization between unmarried men and women is unacceptable in conservative Muslim society, same-sex social gatherings are the norm, and may present opportunities for gay people to follow their hearts, Abdullah said.

That doesn’t mean that gays don’t suffer beatings and worse in these somewhat more tolerant countries, or that their families accept them. But even in places like Egypt, where the government has jailed and tortured its gay citizens, some LGBT people are still organizing, carefully, to improve their situations.

Those Muslims who reject gay relationships often point to sacred writings, as is the case with like-minded Christians.

For example, Adbdullah has often heard Muslims invoke the story of Lut in the Quran (comparable to the story of Lot in the Bible) to argue that Islam condemns men who love men. Like many other gay Muslims, he reads the same verses and comes to a different conclusion: that the story condemns cruelty, not any particular sexual act.

In the Quran, he finds nothing to condemn his sexual orientation. The word “homosexuality” is not used in the text, he notes. “The Prophet was not prejudiced.”

Pointing to the Quran or any religion’s sacred writings to explain current day moral stances also makes little sense, said Aisha Geissinger, who teaches about Islam at Ottawa’s Carleton University.

“Nobody takes all of their sexual morality nowadays from an old text. Christians don’t do it. Muslims don’t do it,” Geissinger said. “Otherwise, we’d have slavery.”

And like Abdullah, she offers an example from history that counters the idea that Muslim societies are monolithic and have always been hostile to same-sex desires.

In “Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, 1500-1800,” author Khaled El-Rouayheb points out that much of the poetry in the Arab world prior to the 19th century was written by men about a male beloved, or a person whose gender is ambiguous.

“It is difficult to imagine that this type of poetry was so popular if it didn’t reflect something about what people were seeing as normative,” Geissinger said.

Lauren Markoe,

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