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Are Some Islamic Leaders Becoming Less Homophobic?

Timothy Kincaid

December 3rd, 2007

suhail_abualsameed.gifWe seldom cover Islamic issues here at Box Turtle Bulletin, mostly because we have little familiarity with Islam and because it seldom is a significant social force in the United States. But the general impression is that those who are most devout in this faith, as well as those geographic regions most under its sway, are harshly homophobic and supportive of extreme punitive responses including execution.

However, a report out of South Africa (via ukgaynews) gives us some small hope for change.

The International Consultation on Islam and HIV/AIDS had spent several days denouncing the evils of homosexuality. An outsider might find this an unusual tactic for approaching “HIV prevention among hard-to-reach vulnerable groups like sex workers, street children, injecting drug users, and men who have sex with men.” But for religious Muslims in the third world, this seemed the only acceptable approach.

Then Suhail AbualSameed stood to speak.

“As a gay Muslim, I feel unsafe, unloved and unrespected in this space,” he said.

“Were I to become HIV-positive, the first thing I would lose is my Muslim community. I couldn’t come to you guys for support.”

After his speech, AbualSameed was surprised to hear apologies and words of support from many who sported the beards or the veils of the very religious. He was more surprised to hear an official response from organization.

Conference spokesperson and IRW head of policy Willem van Eekelen read their collective statement, saying that although Islam does not accept homosexuality, Islamic leaders would try to help create an environment in which gay people could approach social workers and find help against AIDS without feeling unsafe.

While I doubt that executions will diminish or that Islam will soon open its arms to its gay children, I am happy to report any steps of progress.

Comments

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Suricou Raven
December 4th, 2007 | LINK

Unlike Christians, Muslims in some countries actually follow their holy commands. If the Koran says to kill someone, they get killed. They lack the theological weaseling-out mechanisms that Christians are able to use to quietly dismiss verses they find awkward.

Samantha Davis
December 5th, 2007 | LINK

Wow, this is great news. Personally, I think that homophobia in the Muslim world is much like homophobia in the Christian world: it’s more related to geography than it is to creed.

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