Organization of Gay Muslims in London Sparks Controversy, Dialogue

July 6, 2006

Source: MSNBC

On July 6, 2006 MSNBC reported, "Ubaid, who asked that his last name not be used, was born in London to a close-knit and devoutly Muslim Pakistani family...

Several years after deciding not to enter into a marriage arranged by his parents, he is now secretary of Imaan, the United Kingdom's only gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender Muslim group.

Imaan's members feel like they are targets of both a wider society that discriminates against Muslims, and a Muslim community that sees homosexuality as a Western disease...Imaan, which means faith in Arabic, has around 300 members, most of whom have not told their families that they are gay...

The group was started in 1998 as a branch of the U.S. gay Muslim group, Al-Fatiha, after its American members visited London. It serves as a support network, and is a meeting place for people to pray together and celebrate Islamic holidays.

Imaan hosts conferences that deal with such topics as culture, Islamaphobia, non-Muslim partners, HIV and Islam, relatives of gay Muslims, and trans-sexual Muslims. And some members take part in gay pride events.

On July 1, around 25 Imaan members rode atop a float in the EuroPride 06 parade in London. With banners reading 'Gay Muslims unveiled' and flags of the United Kingdom and from across the Islamic world, they waved cheerfully at the crowd.

While they didn't hide themselves in rainbow burkhas as they did the previous year, most were still reluctant to give their names or be photographed for fear of reprisals.

Although the group's membership is on the rise, gay Muslims are not accepted by the wider Islamic communities of any country."