LGBT in Islam
LGBT and Islam is influenced by the religious, legal and cultural history of the nations with a sizable Muslim population, along with specific passages in the Quran and statements attributed to the Islamic prophet Muhammad (hadith). Hadiths traditionally are not interpreted because their language is understood to be simple matter-of-fact language. Orthodox Islam is not only a system of beliefs, but also a legal system.
The traditional schools of Islamic law based on Qur'anic verses and hadith consider homosexual acts a punishable crime and a sin, and influenced by Islamic scholars such as Imam Malik and Imam Shafi. The Qur'an cites the story of the "people of Lot" destroyed by the wrath of God because they engaged in "lustful" carnal acts between men.
Nevertheless, homoerotic themes were present in poetry and other literature written by some Muslims from the medieval period onwards and sometimes homoeroticism in the form of pederasty was seen in a positive way.
Today in most of the Islamic world homosexuality is not socially or legally accepted. In some of these countries, Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, homosexual activity carries the death penalty. In others, such as Somalia and Malaysia, it is illegal.
Same-sex sexual intercourse is legal in 20 Muslim-majority nations (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Niger, Tajikistan, Turkey, West Bank (State of Palestine), and most of Indonesia, as well as Northern Cyprus). In Albania, Lebanon, and Turkey, there have been discussions about legalizing same-sex marriage. Homosexual relations between females are legal in Kuwait, but homosexual acts between males are illegal.
Most Muslim-majority countries have opposed moves to advance LGBT rights at the United Nations, in the General Assembly and/or the UNHRC. However, Albania, Guinea-Bissau and Sierra Leone have signed a UN Declaration supporting LGBT rights. OIC member-state Mozambique provides LGBT rights protections in law in the form of non-discrimination laws, and discussions on legally recognizing same-sex marriage have been held in the country.
- 1 Scripture and Islamic jurisprudence
- 2 History of homosexuality in Islamic societies
- 3 Homosexuality laws in majority-Muslim countries
- 4 Public opinion among Muslims
- 5 LGBT movements within Islam
- 6 Gender variant and transgender people
- 7 See also
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 Notes
- 10 External links
Scripture and Islamic jurisprudence
The Quran contains seven references to fate of "the people of Lut" (references 7:80–84, 11:77–83, 21:74, 22:43, 26:165–175, 27:56–59, and 29:27–33), and their destruction by Allah is associated explicitly with their sexual practices:
"And (We sent) Lot when he said to his people: What! do you commit an indecency which any one in the world has not done before you? Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people. And the answer of his people was no other than that they said: Turn them out of your town, surely they are a people who seek to purify (themselves). So We delivered him and his followers, except his wife; she was of those who remained behind. And We rained upon them a rain; consider then what was the end of the guilty."[7:80–84 (Translated by Shakir)]
"And as for those who are guilty of an indecency from among your women, call to witnesses against them four (witnesses) from among you; then if they bear witness confine them to the houses until death takes them away or Allah opens some way for them. And as for the two who are guilty of indecency from among you, give them both a punishment; then if they repent and amend, turn aside from them; surely Allah is oft-returning (to mercy), the Merciful."[4:15–16 (Translated by Shakir)]
The Hadith and Seerah
The hadith (sayings and actions of Muhammad) show that homosexuality was not unknown in Arabia. Given that the Qur'an is allegedly vague regarding the punishment of homosexual sodomy, Islamic jurists turned to the collections of the hadith and seerah (accounts of Muhammad's life) to support their argument for Hudud punishment.
Abu `Isa Muhammad ibn `Isa at-Tirmidhi compiling the Sunan al-Tirmidhi around C.E.884 (two centuries after the death of Muhammad) wrote that Muhammad had prescribed the death penalty for both the active and the passive partner: "Whoever you find committing the sin of the people of Lut (Lot), kill them, both the one who does it and the one to whom it is done." The overall moral or theological principle is that a person who performs such actions (luti) challenges the harmony of God's creation, and is therefore a revolt against God.
Ibn al-Jawzi (1114-1200) writing in the 12th century claimed that Muhammad had cursed "sodomites" in several hadith, and had indeed recommended the death penalty for both the active and passive partners in homosexual acts.
Al-Nuwayri (1272-1332) in his Nihaya reports that Muhammad is alleged to have said what he feared most for his community were the practices of the people of Lot (although he seems to have expressed the same idea in regard to wine and female seduction).
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done.
Narrated by Abdullah ibn Abbas: The Prophet cursed effeminate men; those men who are in the similitude (assume the manners of women) and those women who assume the manners of men, and he said, "Turn them out of your houses." The Prophet turned out such-and-such man, and 'Umar turned out such-and-such woman.
There were varying opinions on how the death penalty was to be carried out. Abu Bakr apparently recommended toppling a wall on the evil-doer, or else burning alive, while Ali bin Abi Talib ordered death by stoning for one "luti" and had another thrown head-first from the top of a minaret—according to Ibn Abbas, this last punishment must be followed by stoning.
Later medieval jurisprudence
The four schools of shari'a (Islamic law) disagreed on what punishment is appropriate for liwat. Abu Bakr Al-Jassas (d. 981 AD/370 AH) argued that the two hadiths on killing homosexuals "are not reliable by any means and no legal punishment can be prescribed based on them", and the Hanafi school held that it does not merit any physical punishment, on the basis of a hadith that "Muslim blood can only be spilled for adultery, apostasy and homicide"; against this the Hanbali school inferred that sodomy is a form of adultery and must incur the same penalty, i.e. death.
Modern legal views
With few exceptions all scholars of Sharia, or Islamic law, interpret homosexual activity as a punishable offence as well as a sin. There is no specific punishment prescribed, however, and this is usually left to the discretion of the local authorities on Islam. Mohamed El-Moctar El-Shinqiti, a contemporary Mauritanian scholar, has argued that "[even though] homosexuality is a grievous sin...[a] no legal punishment is stated in the Qur'an for homosexuality...[b] it is not reported that Prophet Muhammad has punished somebody for committing homosexuality...[c] there is no authentic hadith reported from the Prophet prescribing a punishment for the homosexuals..." Hadith scholars such as Al-Bukhari, Yahya ibn Ma'in, Al-Nasa'i, Ibn Hazm, Al-Tirmidhi, and others have impugned these statements.
Faisal Kutty, a professor of Islamic law at Indiana-based Valparaiso University Law School and Toronto-based Osgoode Hall Law School, commented on the contemporary same-sex marriage debate in a March 27, 2014 essay in the Huffington Post. He acknowledged that while Islamic law iterations prohibits pre- and extra-marital as well as same-sex sexual activity, it does not attempt to "regulate feelings, emotions and urges, but only its translation into action that authorities had declared unlawful." Kutty, who teaches comparative law and legal reasoning, also wrote that many Islamic scholars  have "even argued that homosexual tendencies themselves were not haram [prohibited] but had to be suppressed for the public good." He claimed that this may not be "what the LGBTQ community wants to hear," but he wrote that, "it reveals that even classical Islamic jurists struggled with this issue and had a more sophisticated attitude than many contemporary Muslims." Kutty who in the past wrote in support of allowing Islamic principles in dispute resolution also noted that "most Muslims have no problem extending full human rights to those - even Muslims - who live together 'in sin'." He argued that therefore it seems hypocritical to deny fundamental rights to same-sex couples. Moreover, he argued as pointed out by Islamic legal scholar Mohamed Fadel, this is not about changing Islamic marriage (nikah), but about making "sure that all citizens have access to the same kinds of public benefits.
Islamist journalist Muhammad Jalal Kishk found no prescribed punishment for homosexuality in Islamic law Several modern day scholars, including Scott Kugle, argue for a different interpretation of the Lot narrative focusing not on the sexual act but on the infidelity of the tribe and their rejection of Lot's Prophethood.
There are several methods by which sharia jurists have advocated the punishment of gays or lesbians who are sexually active. One form of execution involves an individual convicted of homosexual acts being stoned to death by a crowd of Muslims. Other Muslim jurists have established ijma ruling that those committing homosexual acts be thrown from rooftops or high places, and this is the perspective of most Salafists.
History of homosexuality in Islamic societies
The centuries immediately after Muhammad's death led to a rapid growth of the Islamic empire accompanied by increased prosperity. Some muslims bemoaned the general "corruption" of morals in the two holy cities of Mecca and Medina, and it's clear that homosexual practice continued (in a subterranean manner) despite its growing condemnation by the religious authorities. In fact it seems to have become less hidden as the process of acculturation sped up - for example in the area of music and dance where mukhannathun were prevalent. The arrival of the Abbasid army to Arabia in the 8th century seems to have meant that tolerance for homosexual practice subsequently spread even more widely under the new dynasty. The ruler Al-Amin (809-813), for example, was said to have required slave women to be dressed in masculine clothing so he could be persuaded to have sex and produce an heir. Abu Nuwas (756-814), born in the city of Ahvaz in modern-day Iran, became a master of all the contemporary genres of Arabic poetry; sharing Al-Amin's love for men and composing poems celebrating such love.
There are other examples from the following centuries. The Aghlabid Emir, Ibrahim II of Ifriqiya (ruled 875–902), was said to have been surrounded by some sixty catamites, yet whom he was said to have treated in a most horrific manner. Caliph al-Mutasim in the 9th century and some of his successors were accused of homosexuality. The popular stories says that Cordoba, Abd al-Rahman III had executed a young man from León who was held as a hostage, because he had refused his advances during the Reconquista.
Mehmed the Conqueror, the Ottoman sultan living in the 15th century, European sources say "who was known to have ambivalent sexual tastes, sent a eunuch to the house of Notaras, demanding that he supply his good looking fourteen year old son for the Sultan’s pleasure. When he refused, the Sultan instantly ordered the decapitation of Notaras, together with that of his son and his son-in-law; and their three heads … were placed on the banqueting table before him". Another youth Mehmed found attractive, and who was presumably more accommodating, was Radu III the Fair, the brother of the famous Vlad the Impaler, "Radu, a hostage in Istanbul whose good looks had caught the Sultan’s fancy, and who was thus singled out to serve as one of his most favored pages." After the defeat of Vlad, Mehmed placed Radu on the throne of Wallachia as a vassal ruler. However, Turkish sources deny these stories.
According to the Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World
Whatever the legal strictures on sexual activity, the positive expression of male homeoerotic sentiment in literature was accepted, and assiduously cultivated, from the late eighth century until modern times. First in Arabic, but later also in Persian, Turkish and Urdu, love poetry by men about boys more than competed with that about women, it overwhelmed it. Anecdotal literature reinforces this impression of general societal acceptance of the public celebration of male-male love (which hostile Western caricatures of Islamic societies in medieval and early modern times simply exaggerate).
European travellers remarked on the taste that Shah Abbas of Iran (1588-1629) had for wine and festivities, but also for charming pages and cup bearers. A painting by Riza Abbasi with homo-erotic qualities shows the ruler enjoying such delights.
Despite the formal disapproval of religious authority, the segregation of women in Muslim societies and the strong emphasis on male virility leads adolescent males and unmarried young men to seek sexual outlets with boys younger than themselves—in one study in Morocco, with boys in the age-range 7 to 13. Men have sex with other males so long as they are the penetrators and their partners are boys, or in some cases effeminate men.
Liwat can therefore be regarded as "temptation", and anal intercourse is not seen as repulsively unnatural so much as dangerously attractive. They believe "one has to avoid getting buggered precisely in order not to acquire a taste for it and thus become addicted." Not all sodomy is homosexual: one Moroccan sociologist, in a study of sex education in his native country, notes that for many young men heterosexual sodomy is considered better than vaginal penetration, and female prostitutes likewise report the demand for anal penetration from their (male) clients.
It is not so much the penetration as the enjoyment that is considered bad. Deep shame attaches to the passive partner: "for this reason men stop getting laid at the age of 15 or 16 and 'forget' that they ever allowed it earlier." Similar sexual sociologies are reported for other Muslim societies from North Africa to Pakistan and the Far East. In Afghanistan in 2009, the British Army was forced to commission a report into the sexuality of the local men after British soldiers reported the discomfort at witnessing adult males involved in sexual relations with boys. The report stated that though illegal, there was a tradition of such relationships in the country, known as "bache bazi" or boy play, and that it was especially strong around North Afghanistan.
Homosexuality laws in majority-Muslim countries
According to the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) seven countries still retain capital punishment for homosexual behavior: Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan, Mauritania, Sudan, and northern Nigeria. The situation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is that is punished by corporal or capital punishment, depending on the region—with punishment varying from time in prison, mutilation, or a fine. In Qatar, Algeria, Uzbekistan, and the Maldives, homosexuality is punished with time in prison or a fine. This has led to controversy regarding Qatar, which is due to stage the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Human rights groups have questioned the awarding in 2010 of the right to host the competition, due to the possibility that gay football fans may be jailed. In response, Sepp Blatter, head of FIFA, joked that they would have to "refrain from sexual activity" while in Qatar. He later withdrew the remarks after condemnation from rights groups.
In Egypt, openly gay men have been prosecuted under general public morality laws. (See Cairo 52.) In Saudi Arabia, the maximum punishment for homosexual acts is public execution, which is often carried out. The government will sometimes use lesser punishments—for example, fines, time in prison, and whipping—as alternatives.
- "The Qu'ran and Homosexuality". Internet History Sourcebooks Project. Fordham University. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
Richard Burton suggests the following Qu'ranic verses as relevant to homosexuality:
-  Archived January 14, 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- Khaled El-Rouayheb. Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World 1500–1800. pp. 12 ff.
-  Archived October 26, 2014 at the Wayback Machine
- Abu Dawud 32:4087
- Sahih Bukhari 7:72:774
- Ibn Majah Vol. 3, Book 9, Hadith 1903
- "UK party leaders back global gay rights campaign". BBC Online. 13 September 2011. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
At present, homosexuality is illegal in 76 countries, including 38 within the Commonwealth. At least five countries - the Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania and Sudan - have used the death penalty against gay people.
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- LGBT rights in the United Arab Emirates
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In India, which has the third largest Muslim population in the world, and where Muslims form a large minority, the largest Islamic seminary (Darul Uloom Deoband) has vehemently opposed recent government moves to abrogate and liberalize laws from the British Raj era that banned homosexuality.
However, in 20 out of 57 Muslim-majority nations same-sex intercourse is not forbidden by law.
The Ottoman Empire (predecessor of Turkey) decriminalized homosexuality in 1858 and In Turkey where 99.8% of the population is Muslim, homosexuality has never criminalized since the day it has founded in 1923. and LGBT people also have right to seek asylum to Turkey under the Geneva Convention since 1951.
Same-sex sexual intercourse is legal in Albania, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Guinea-Bissau, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Niger, Tajikistan, Turkey, West Bank (State of Palestine), most of Indonesia, and in Northern Cyprus. In Albania, Lebanon, and Turkey, there have been discussions about legalizing same-sex marriage.
In 2007 there was a gay party in the Moroccan town of al-Qasr al-Kabir. Rumours spread that this was a gay marriage and more than 600 people took to the streets, condemning the alleged event and protesting against leniency towards homosexuals. Several persons who attended the party were detained and eventually six Moroccan men were sentenced to between four and ten months in prison for "homosexuality".
In France there was an Islamic same-sex marriage on February 18, 2012. In Paris in November 2012 a room in a Buddhist prayer hall was used by gay Muslims and called a "gay-friendly mosque", and a French Islamic website  is supporting religious same-sex marriage.
The first American Muslim in the United States Congress, Keith Ellison (D-MN) said in 2010 that all discrimination against LGBT people is wrong. He further expressed support for gay marriage stating:
I believe that the right to marry someone who you please is so fundamental it should not be subject to popular approval any more than we should vote on whether blacks should be allowed to sit in the front of the bus.
In 2014 eight men were jailed for three years by a Cairo court after the circulation of a video of them allegedly taking part in a private wedding ceremony between two men on a boat on the Nile.
Public opinion among Muslims
In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council passed its first resolution recognizing LGBT rights, which was followed up with a report from the UN Human Rights Commission documenting violations of the rights of LGBT people. The two world maps of religions of the world and the countries that support LGBT rights at the UN give an impression of the attitude towards homosexuality on the part of many Muslim-majority governments.
In 2013, the Pew Research Center conducted a study on the global acceptance of homosexuality and found a widespread rejection of homosexuality in many nations that are predominantly Muslim. In some countries, views were actually becoming more conservative among younger people.
should be accepted
- Source: "The Global Divide on Homosexuality" (Website). PEW Research. 4 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-13.
A 2007 survey of British Muslims showed that 61% believe homosexuality should be illegal, with up to 71% of young British Muslims holding this belief. A later Gallup poll in 2009 showed that none of the 500 British Muslims polled believed homosexuality to be "morally acceptable". This compared with 35% of the 1001 French Muslims polled that did.
LGBT movements within Islam
The Al-Fatiha Foundation was an organization which tried to advance the cause of gay, lesbian, and transgender Muslims. It was founded in 1998 by Faisal Alam, a Pakistani American, and was registered as a nonprofit organization in the United States. The organization was an offshoot of an internet listserve that brought together many gay, lesbian and questioning Muslims from various countries. The Foundation accepted and considered homosexuality as natural, either regarding Qur'anic verses as obsolete in the context of modern society, or stating that the Qu'ran speaks out against homosexual lust and is silent on homosexual love. After the Alam stepped down, subsequent leaders failed to sustain the organization and it began a process of legal dissolution in 2011.
In 2001, Al-Muhajiroun, a banned and now defunct international organization who sought the establishment of a global Islamic caliphate, issued a fatwa declaring that all members of Al-Fatiha were murtadd, or apostates, and condemning them to death. Because of the threat and coming from conservative societies, many members of the foundation's site still prefer to be anonymous so as to protect their identity while continuing a tradition of secrecy. Al-Fatiha has fourteen chapters in the United States, as well as offices in England, Canada, Spain, Turkey, and South Africa. In addition, Imaan, a social support group for Muslim LGBT people and their families, exists in the UK. Both of these groups were founded by gay Pakistani activists. The UK also has the Safra Project for women.
Some Muslims, such as the lesbian writer Irshad Manji and academic author Scott Kugle, argue that Islam does not condemn homosexuality. He, as well as South Asian scholar and author Ruth Vanita and Muslim scholar and writer Saleem Kidwai, contend that ancient Islam has a rich history of homoerotic literature.
There are also a number of Islamic ex-gay (i.e. people claiming to have experienced a basic change in sexual orientation from exclusive homosexuality to exclusive heterosexuality) groups aimed at attempting to guide homosexuals towards heterosexuality. A large body of research and global scientific consensus indicates that being gay, lesbian, or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment. Because of this, major mental health professional organizations discourage and caution individuals against attempting to change their sexual orientation to heterosexual, and warn that attempting to do so can be harmful. People who have gone through conversion therapy face 8.9 times the rates of suicide ideation, face depression at 5.9 times the rate of their peers and are three times more likely to use illegal drugs compared to those who did not go through the therapy.
The religious conflicts and inner turmoil that Islamic homosexuals struggle over has been addressed in various media, such as the 2006 Channel 4 documentary Gay Muslims, and the 2007 documentary film A Jihad for Love. The latter was produced by Sandi Simcha DuBowski, who six years earlier made a Jewish-themed documentary on the same topic, titled Trembling Before G-d.
In November 2012, a prayer room was set up in Paris by gay Islamic scholar and founder of the group 'Homosexual Muslims of France' Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed. It was described by the press as the first gay-friendly mosque in Europe, though traditional Islamic scholars[who?] disagree.
Gender variant and transgender people
In Islam, the term mukhannathun is used to describe gender-variant people, usually male-to-female transgender. Neither this term nor the equivalent for "eunuch" occurs in the Qur'an, but the term does appear in the Hadith, the sayings of Muhammad, which have a secondary status to the central text. Moreover, within Islam, there is a tradition on the elaboration and refinement of extended religious doctrines through scholarship. This doctrine contains a passage by the scholar and hadith collector 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.
While Iran has outlawed homosexuality, Iranian Shi'a thinkers such as Ayatollah Khomeini have allowed for transgender people to change their sex so that they can enter heterosexual relationships. This position has been confirmed by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and is also supported by many other Iranian clerics.
Iran carries out more sex change operations than any other nation in the world except for Thailand. It is regarded as a cure for homosexuality, which is punishable by death under Iranian law. The government even provides up to half the cost for those needing financial assistance and a sex change is recognized on the birth certificate.
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- Inclusive Mosque Initiative
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|Wikiquote has quotations related to: LGBT in Islam|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Homosexuality and Islam.|
- Islam and homosexuality: Straight but narrow, The Economist, Feb 4th 2012
- Homosexuality: What is the real sickness? Illustrative Article from AbdurRahman.org
- Gay Rights: Who are the Real Enemies of Liberation?, Socialist Review
- Imaan supports LGBT Muslim people, their families and friends (UK)
- The StraightWay Foundation (UK)
- Intolerant cruelty This special edition of Diabolic Digest explores the question of homosexuality in the Middle East.
- Islamic law: (much) Theory and (just enough) Practice
- Safra Project — Sexuality, Gender and Islam
- Queer Sexuality and Identity in the Qur'an and Hadith, interpretation of Islamic texts in historical context
- Sodomy in Islamic Jurisprudence (article in German; engl. Summary)
- Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies by Arno Schmitt and Jehoeda Sofer (eds.), Harrington Park Press 1992
- Islam and Homosexuality
- Gay Travels in the Muslim World, an anthology of travel essays by gay Muslim and non-Muslim men; Luongo, Michael (ed.) Haworth Press
- Islam and Homosexuality
- Kotb, H.G.: Sexuality in Islam at the Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology
- Homosexuality in Urdu poetry: Tolerance in medieval India and early Islamic societies
- lgbti.org Turkey LGBTI Union