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LGBT Muslims and Arabs


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LGBT Muslims and Arabs

  1. 1.  Prior to colonialization  Homosexual relationships between adolescent boys and older men, akin to the Greek relationships, were accepted. After colonization this practice was repudiated and currently homosexuality is perceived as a major sin. (Bereket & Adam, 2008)  The intellectual classes in the Middle East did not internalize Western attitudes towards homosexuality until the early part of the 20th century. (Tejirian, 2006) Currently  According to Weeks (1992), there is no concept of "the homosexual", except where it has been imported from the West, no notion of exclusive homosexuality, and no gay way of life (p. x, as cited in Halstead & Lewicka, 1998, p. 58).
  2. 2. In there study analyzing the culture and religion influence attitudes towards homosexuality Adamczyk andPitt (2009) found that: ―Despite harsher penalties for people found guilty of homosexuality in Muslim nations, residence in a Muslim nation does not appear to encourage more disapproving attitudes than residence in Buddhist, Protestant, or Orthodox nations.‖ (p. 349) ―By contrast, living in a Muslim-majority,rather than a Catholic country, appearsto encourage disapproving attitudesabout homosexuality, even for peoplewho are not religious. Moreover,the magnitude of the relationshipbetween attitudes about homosexualityand living in a Catholic, rather than aMuslim nation, was one of the largestof all the predictors we examined.‖(p. 349 )
  3. 3.  Liberal  Indonesia,  Lebanon,  Turkey (Bereket & Adam,2008)  Conservative  Yemen,  Saudi Arabia,  Iran,  Mauritania,  Northern Nigeria,  Sudan (ILGA, 2007)
  4. 4.  Iran: Executed young men for having sex with each otherEgypt: Tried a group of men on embellished charges ofhomosexualityUnited Arab Emirates: Banned screening of BrokebackMountain, ―because ofofficial sensibilities.‖ (Tejirian, 2006)
  5. 5.  Homosexuality  The Oxford English-Arabic dictionary offers two terms for homosexuality: 1. Scientific:  ishtiha al-mumathil. (literally carnal desire to the same) 2. Casual:  liwat (literally the doing of Lots people) *(Doniach, 1972, as cited in Halstead & Lewicka, 1998) Lesbian in Arabic  Musahaqa (Halstead & Lewicka, 1998) Gay In Turkish  Gey (Bereket & Adam, 2008) Top  Aktif (the masculine figure) (Bereket & Adam, 2008) Bottom  Pasif (the ―real‖ (feminine figure) homosexual) (Bereket & Adam, 2008)
  6. 6.  ―The acceptance of ones God-given sex is a form of surrender to God. The unity and harmony intended by God is constituted by the union of a man and a woman in a lawful sexual act (i.e. an act within marriage). Any other way of realising sexual desires violates the order of the world and is condemned as a source of evil and anarchy. Thus zina (adultery, fornication) is condemned because it seeks to realise the harmonious complementarity of the sexes outside the divinely ordained limits‖ (Halstead & Lewicka, 1998)
  7. 7.  ―In Islam the sexual function is in itself a sacred one, expressing the will and the power of God‖ (Halstead & Lewicka, 1998, p. 58) According to Mohammed, 1. ‗The marital coitus leading to pleasure is equivalent to alms . . . When spouses make love, God looks at them, full of kindness‘ 2. For Moslem jurists, sexual pleasure purifies the hearts 3. Contrary to abstinence which hardens them. (Dialmy, 2010)
  8. 8.  Both Genders  It is forbidden for both genders to have homosexual relationships (Dialmy, 2010). Male on Male Sex  Halstead and Lewicka (1998) mention that they focused primarily on male homosexuality because lesbianism is a different issue with minimal information. Female on Female Sex  ―Islamic law categorises [lesbianism] as sex outside marriage and therefore it carries the same penalties as adultery. But Schild (1992,pp. 186-187) and Bouhdiba (1995,p. 31) both claim that in practice not much attention is paid to lesbian behaviour, perhaps because it does not involve penetration.‖ Halstead & Lewicka, 1998, p. 56).
  9. 9.  Muslim populations predominantly hold traditional views on sexual norms. Within Islamic countries, Islamic legitimacy holds priority over democratic legitimacy (Dialmy, 2010). Men‘s roles/expectations  Men have more rights in their ability to express their sexuality Women‘s roles/expectations  It is forbidden for women to have extramarital sex
  10. 10.  ―It is the woman or ‗real‘ homosexual who ‗gives‘ (the pasif) and the ‗real‘ man who ‗puts‘ (the aktif). The males active role of penetration is opposed to those who offer themselves to be penetrated in either vaginal or anal intercourse.‖ (Bereket & Adam, 2008, p. 217) Masculinity can be threatened when men become pasif partners (Bereket & Adam, 2008). ―The symbolic structure of male-female interactions shapes the organization of Turkish homosexualities insofar as sex role, rather than the sex of a partner, operates as a primary signifier of sexual status (Parker, 1999, p. 30, as cited in Bereket & Adam, 2008, p. 217 ).‖
  11. 11.  Men who identify themselves as being exclusively aktif or pasif, adhere more closely to the traditional constitution of same-sex bonding, are also influenced by religious teachings and experience great distress from not resisting the homoerotic attractions and anticipate their punishment after death. (Bereket & Adam, 2008) Gey-identified men, by contrast, appear to have more liberal views concerning not only their sexuality but also their general take on religiosity. Embracing a gey identity a claim for personal freedom or civil liberty, unbound by the strictures of Turkish society (Bereket & Adam, 2008)
  12. 12.  Tapinç (1992) states that gender ideology among Islamic cultures is very dichotomous with little room for alternative options for identity (As cited in Bereket & Adam, 2008) Which is why many gay men in Turkey accept effeminacy through identifying themselves with women and images of womanhood once they realize they are gay. When gay men abandon culturally defined manhood identifying with women is the only safe harbor to seek refuge. Although penetrating a man is also potentially stigmatizing, the aktif homosexual can maintain his masculinity by making it known that he "gives it like a man― (Bereket & Adam, 2008, p. 217).
  13. 13.  Muslim and Gay- are the two mutually exclusive? For many gay Turkish men in the study (Bereket & Adam, 2008), it was hard to resolve the tension between sexuality and religious proscriptions. There were about 4 pathways to reduce the dissonance. Of the – participants none remained celibate  Give up religion  1. Lose religious faith and immerse in gay culture.  2. Lose faith in Islam and religion  Live with guilt  3. Nominally identify with Islam as a cultural connection or identity and recognize the spiritual principles while dismiss the rigid laws  4. Maintain Islamic convictions and continue to engage in gay activity, but await their punishment in the after life.
  14. 14.  3 Important Principles (Halstead & Lewicka, 1998)1. Muslims think in terms of acts, not inclinations.  Consequence: A person‘s actions define them not a innate identity2. Because there is no belief in fixed inclinations, a person‘s behavior can always change, perhaps through the commands of God.  Consequence: Gay people can change their behavior and identity if they wish3. The active and passive roles are clearly distinguished and there is no concept of acting in both roles.  Consequence: A man who is bottoms is not a manAs a result, Western concepts of homosexuality and heterosexualityare not conceptualized in the current Muslim worldview. Everyaction is a choice and that people who claim they are gay can easilychoose to be gay.
  15. 15. According to Halstead and Lewicka (1998): ―Muslims do not fear homosexuality, they disapprove of it‖ (Sarwar, 1996, p. 23, as cited in Halstead & Lewicka, 1998, p. 60). ―Their disapproval is not irrational, though the presuppositions on which the rational beliefs are based are not shared by everyone‖ (p. 60) ―Since tolerance is commonly defined as a deliberate choice not to interfere with conduct of which one disapproves (Halstead, 1996b), the question arises whether Muslims should tolerate homosexual conduct‖ (p. 60)
  16. 16.  According to Schild (1992), within Islamic culture sometimes a blind eye is turned on homosexual activity as long as the behavior occurs in private (Halstead & Lewicka, 1998) Despite the taboo against the behavior it is widely claimed that homosexual activity does occur between ―men and boys, older and younger boys, masters and apprentices, teachers and pupils, in religious brotherhoods, within the extended family, in public baths and in bars and other meeting places (Schmitt & Sofer, 1992, as cited in Halstead & Lewicka, 1998, p. 61). Halstead and Lewicka (1998) suggest that many Muslims may not necessarily turn a blind eye but let God judge the behavior and determine the consequence. ―It is clear that it is not the practice in Islam to seek out those with homosexual desires with a view to persecuting them‗‖ (Sarwar, 1996, p. 24, as cited in Halstead & Lewicka, 1998, p. 61)
  17. 17.  While most Turks disapprove of homosexual behavior, it is possible to engage in homosexual acts as long as a gay person minimizes any effeminate behavior and the ―deviant‖ sexual activity is not discussed or mentioned. What matters most in Turkish society is that men uphold the male gender role, at least in public (Bereket & Adams, 2008)
  18. 18.  Gay men and women are slowly emerging from the woodwork in many Arabic countries  In Kuwait, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia, young gay men and lesbians are becoming bolder and more visible in expressing themselves and identifying openly as gay (Meehan, 2007). Gey (gay) identified men in Turkey are becoming more evident in urban centers(Bereket & Adam, 2006; as cited in Bereket & Adam, 2008)). These men question the language of gender-inscribed sexuality as identity and as a vocabulary of desire. This new model of same-sex desire is found widely among urban, young, educated, and middle-class homosexuals. "They represent a new sexually conscious stratum of the homosexual population in society, and have introduced the word gay [gey] with which to identify themselves" (Tapmç, 1992, p. 46, as cited in Bereket & Adams, 2008, p. 217).o Through this behavior more Turkish men are accessing the cultural discourses of the West and molding them to Turkish culture (Adam, 2001 as cited in Bereket & Adam, 2008).
  19. 19.  Meehan (2007) asserts that Homosexuality is going to become more visible in the coming years and there is little that governments and societal figures can do to prevent queer individuals from exerting their presence in the community. Meehan (2007) also predicts that the gay presence in society will create tension by the perceived challenge to family structure. Other effects may include the increased spread of STDs and a decrease in population growth if same-sex couples ―cannot naturally bear children.‖
  20. 20. Goals of Al-Fatiha Organization: Provide a supportive and understanding environment for LGBTQ Muslims who are trying to reconcile their sexuality or gender identity with Islam. Empower LGBTQ Muslims by creating safe spaces to share individual experiences, advocating on their behalf in national and international forums, and providing information about institutional resources. Foster spirituality among LGBTQ Muslims. Encourage dialogue with the larger Muslim community around issues of sexuality and gender (Thumma & Edward, 2005).
  21. 21.  In 2001, Al-Muhajiroun (international organization seeking the establishment of standardized Islamic caliphate) issued a ruling declaring that all members of Al-Fatiha were condemned to death. Because of the threat coming from conservative societies, many members of the foundations site still prefer to be anonymous to protect their identity, continuing a tradition of secrecy (Herbert, 2006). While Al-Fatiha works to combat homophobia within Muslim communities, it faces the challenge of not provoking an Islamophobic reaction among non-Muslims (Kincheloe, 2010).
  22. 22.  Organized in a city with the largest concentration of Arabs in the United States (Dearborn, MI). ―Was founded September 2004, after a group of Gay Middle-Eastern friends watched ―I Exist‖. The documentary inspired them to start an organization to support and provide a safer place for other Middle-Eastern Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender ―GLBT‖ people to either come out to themselves or the community. They began Al-GAMEA (the gathering) and started advocating in the community and continued to brand themselves.‖ (Ramazzotti, 2011) This organization is very active in the community and sponsors many social gatherings and projects (ex: bowling, parties, conferences, studies, links to health care) (Ramazzotti, 2011)
  23. 23. Al-Bab Has a ―Diversity‖ section that links to a Gay and Lesbian Arab webpage.Glas Serves the Gay and Lesbian Arab Community, provides articles and resources (In Arabic)
  24. 24.  Qualitative study (6 interviews and participant observation) explores identity experience of progressive gay Muslim men in a North American context attending an international conference for lesbian, gay, bisexual,transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) Muslims. Muslim identity for them appeared three- dimensional (religious, ethno-cultural, and color) when integrated with a gay identity. (Minwalla, Rosser, Feldman, & Varga, 2005)
  25. 25.  As a religious identity: Gay Muslim‘s relationship to Allah (God) and a reinterpretation of the Qur‘an and traditional condemnation of homosexuality was found to be extremely important and necessary. As a cultural identity: East–West differences impacting and gay identity and construction socialization, marriage and the impact of coming out on the Eastern family and siblings were found to be critical issues. As a color identity: Internalized racism, dating relationships and social dynamics within gay subculture as Muslims of color in a white dominant context were found to be main challenges. Limited sample but a great start. Educates public/academia on the existence of Gay Muslims.
  26. 26.  A Jihad for Love (2007) is the worlds first documentary film on the coexistence of Islam and homosexuality. The film is directed by Parvez Sharma. The films title (Jihad): The film seeks to reclaim this concept of personal struggle..its real meaning.. as it is used in the media almost exclusively to mean "holy war" and to refer to violent acts perpetrated by extremist Muslims. Sharma refuses to associate homosexuality with shame, but recognizes the need to protect the safety and privacy of his sources, by filming them in silhouette or with their faces blurred. In one case, the family of an Afghan woman he interviewed "would undoubtedly kill her" if they found out she was lesbian. In another example, one of the associate producers, an Egyptian gay man, chose not to be listed in the credits for fear of possible consequences (Hays, 2004).
  27. 27. Irshad is founder and director of the MoralCourage Project at New York University‘s schoolof public service. This leadership programequips students to challenge politicalcorrectness, intellectual conformity and self-censorship -- within their families, communitiesand organizations.As a reformist Muslim, she strives to put moralcourage into practice. Her latestbook, Allah, Liberty and Love, is a guide toreconciling faith and freedom in a world ragingwith repressive dogmas. Irshad‘s previous bookis the international bestseller, The Trouble withIslam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in HerFaith (Manji, 2011).
  28. 28. Muslims for Progressive Values, whichZonneveld co-founded in 2007 with PamelaTaylor, a feminist American Muslim, is based on10 principles. They include a commitment toequality of genders and for LGBTQ (or lesbian,gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning)people, repudiation of militarism and violenceand the need for ―critical engagement withIslamic scripture.Leads prayers — a task normally reserved formen —outspoken advocate for gay, bisexual andtransgender Muslims. Later this year, she plansto officiate at the Islamic wedding of a lesbiancouple, which is perfectly acceptable by herreading of the Quran (Huus, 2011).
  29. 29. Imam Dayiee Abdullah: has spent over the last10 years trying to bridge a gap between Islamand homosexuality. He has experienced troublefrom both conservative Islamic groups and anti-gay groups. His interpretation of Quranic verseshas aided in bridging this gap.―To be gay and Muslim, at times, people willsay that it is an oxymoron. But in actuality, it‘s aformulation that shows the diversity withinIslam; that people can be a variety ofbackgrounds. The Quran says to look to thenature of the world. And from that, you can seethe diversity and understand that Allah‘sunderstanding of the world and the universe inwhich he created is full of diversity; but you findthe oneness, the tauheed unification ofall, through those various diverse aspects‖(Pennington, 2010).
  30. 30. Important ValuesTrust and respect {Model this to Earn It}Confidentiality {Explain and Assure}Spirituality {Offer spiritual solutions to them, what is their idea of spirituality?} (Al Krenawi & Graham, 2000)
  31. 31.  The counselor should involve the clients, their parents and their families if it is possible. Collectivist culture: importance of the family respect and honor. for parents, and a strong emphasis on duty to the family. An individual‘s responsibility and duty is to family before the self (Al Krenawi & Graham, 2000).
  32. 32.  How long have they been in US, where they born here? Reasons & conditions for emigration (refugees?) Level of social and family support Degree of religious affiliation Stigma towards mental health (Al Krenawi & Graham, 2000).
  33. 33. Affective disorders often somatized.Emotions described through physical symptoms Fear (Heart falling) Depression (I think too much)Anxiety (My nerves) (Al Krenawi & Graham, 2000).
  34. 34. Respect client‘s culture and/or religion: Arabs and Muslims who experience Islamophbia need to know that counselors are open and understanding of their perspective and will not try to change it.Learn about clients religion and culture: don‘t internalize biases of society--be knowledgeable about the religious and cultural practices (Al Krenawi & Graham, 2000).
  35. 35.  Adamczyk, A., Pitt, C. (2009) Shaping attitudes about homosexuality: The role of religion and cultural context. Social Science Research, 38, 338-351. Al Krenawi, A., & Graham, J.R. (2000). Culturally Competent Social Work Practice with Arab Clients in Mental Health Settings. Health and Social Work, 9-22. Bereket, T., Adam, B. D. (2008). Navigating Islam and same- sex laisons among men in Turkey. Journal of Homosexuality, 55(2), 204-222 Dialmy, A. (2010). Sexuality and Islam. The European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care, 15, 160–168 Hays, Matthew (2004, November 2) Act of Faith: A Film on Gays and Islam. The New York Times. p. 19 Halstead, J. M., Lewicka, K. (1998). Should homosexuality be taught as an acceptable alternative lifestyle? A Muslim perspective. Cambridge Journal of Education, 28(1), 49-64. Huus, K. (2011, October 24). Battling for gay rights, in Allahs name . msnbc, p. 1. ILGA. World day against death penalty. (2007, October 10). Retrieved from
  36. 36.  Kincheloe, Joe L. (2010). Teaching against Islamophobia. Peter Lang. p. 192. Manji, I. (2011, November 29). About irshad manji. Retrieved from Meehan, S. (2007). Homosexuality in the middle east. The Muslim Observer, Retrieved from Minwalla, O., Rosser, S., Feldman, J., & Varga, C. (2005). Identity experience among progressive gay Muslims in North America: A qualitative study within Al-Fatiha. Culture, Health & Sexuality,, 7(2), 113- Pennington, R. (2010, February 8). Daayiee abdullah:being out and being muslim. Muslim Voices, p. 1. Ramazzotti, C. (2011, November 20). Al gamea. Retrieved from Tejirian, E. J. (2006). Book Review: Male-to-Male love in the premodern Islamic World. PsycCRITIQUES, 51(30). Thumma, Scott; Gray, Edward R. (2005). Gay religion. Rowman Altamira. p. 379. Tim Herbert, (2006, October, 7) Queer chronicles. Weekend Australian, Qld Review Edition.