Please consider the immense suffering that individuals who identify as homosexual endure in a religious society. Here is a perspective shared by a member of the LGBT community:
- It is disheartening to think that within a religious context, homosexuality is seen as a sin and subject to punishment, implying that homosexuals were not created by a higher power for the same purposes as heterosexuals. Instead, it suggests that homosexuality serves as a reminder to heterosexuals that engaging in similar behaviors will lead to condemnation. As gay individuals, we are trapped unless we deny our true selves and pretend to be heterosexual, as that is the only acceptable path according to religious doctrine.
- Homosexual children seem to be seen as a "test" for the faith of their heterosexual families and parents, if we accept the teachings of our religious beliefs. We are told that we have been given a "unique test" that only we can handle, as a person's soul is never burdened beyond its capacity. However, this feels profoundly unfair, as it has driven some of us to the brink of suicide.
- It is unjust to label our existence and our inherent desire for love and companionship as a test of character. We are denied the experiences of love, companionship, security, intimacy, and joy that heterosexual Muslims are permitted to have, sometimes multiple times over. Meanwhile, figures like Muhammad had multiple wives (including slave women), and their actions were celebrated. On the other hand, people like me must constantly be cautious, enduring shame and disgust from others when we hold our partner's hand, while also remaining celibate.
- This experience is more than just alienating; it encompasses every negative feeling imaginable. We feel like imposters in our own bodies, as if our very existence is a mistake. Doubt infiltrates our ability to think, trust, and believe in ourselves. We become terrified of everything: our safety, our sanity, and whether any little thing or thought might provoke God's disdain or incite disapproval from Muslims around us. We constantly police ourselves, lose interest in everything, succumb to depression, and contemplate suicide. Our physical and mental well-being suffer neglect. We become people pleasers, unsure if the personality we present is truly our authentic self.
- Homosexuality is used as a means to accuse us of being secret pedophiles and rapists. We are dehumanized, with some suggesting that we have been possessed by supernatural beings throughout our lives without our knowledge. Muslims will never comprehend the overwhelming isolation and loneliness we feel, even when surrounded by our Muslim families under the same roof.
- Heterosexual individuals will never experience the torment of exorcisms and conversion therapies—psychological, physical, and mental tortures—in an attempt to be "cured." Simply having a partner, even without engaging in sexual activity, subjects both individuals to judgment, mockery, laughter, and a lifelong sense of shame.
- Some even go to the extent of forbidding us from being around our own nieces and nephews due to an irrational fear that we will "influence" them or that they will become gay themselves due to our presence.
- While heterosexual individuals do not face denial of healthcare, job opportunities, access to banking, social services, or assistance, openly gay Muslims encounter such discrimination in Islamic countries. Openly gay individuals worldwide live in constant fear of encountering religious extremists who own businesses, hotels, taxi services, clinics, or hold positions within emergency services. The risk of being harmed by a homophobic police officer or neglected by an anti-gay nurse or doctor is a genuine concern. Furthermore, the fear of being labeled a criminal and a threat to society by politicians or religious figures adds to the humiliation. The process of religious leaders delving into our medical history or doctors breaching confidentiality and exposing our identity to everyone simply because we sought health screenings is deeply troubling.
I can go on... But you see my point. Allah (if he is real) is simply cruel.
A message by a member of the US LGBT community to ex-Muslims who are suffering in Islamic countries:
After the publishing of our article, we got this message, which is truly encouraging and serves as a source of enlightenment and inspiration.:
I’ve been working for LGBT rights in the US since the 90s. For all of the differences , the environment in the US was very similar to what you’re describing. Homosexuality was illegal - gay bars were busted by the police resulting in mass arrests that would ruin people’s careers and lives. Dressing in “clothing of the opposite gender” was illegal and would result in arrest. Gay sex was not made a right that people have until 2003, when a Texas sodomy law, which they were trying to enforce, was found to be unconstitutional. Marriage equality was not established until 2015. And currently, those rights and others are under attack in the US, again by religious extremists trying to use force to make society conform to their hateful and medieval vision in order to restore themselves to power.
Before that, in christian countries, homosexuality could and did carry the death penalty. Just like in Muslim countries, sometimes it was “tolerated,” but it was never acceptable, and even the randomness of enforcement left everyone living under a cloud of fear.
You have all of my love and support, and that of the global LGBT community. Islam is wrong - both about this and in general - and it is my hope that the tides of history will reform Islam as a religion to create more reformationist schools of thought. It took christianity a couple of millennia and a whole reformation and enlightenment to get to where it is, and the political winds driven by western interference have not been pushing Islam in a great direction because it has tended to encourage radicalism.
I think that LGBT Muslims should leave Islam, but then I think everyone should. Same with Christianity. I think we, as the queer community, have an additional perspective and thus an additional push, and we have a community of mutual support and understanding, but it’s still a journey. If people cannot, it’s still understandable. It’s all a process of education and reflection.
I’m going to recommend a recent movie about a gay relationship and the tensions it causes in a Muslim man. It’s called Breaking Fast, and if you have not seen it, you might find it a source of understanding. I’ve known gay Muslims, gay Hindus, and gay Christians. Every culture’s struggle is unique, and every person’s struggle is unique, but we all have far more in common amongst our struggles and experiences than we have divisions.
I hope that Islam can enter into a new period where an alternative to fundamentalism becomes dominant. I hope that you, and your LGBT sisters, brothers, and others can emigrate to a country and culture where you are free, even though I realize those freedoms are traded for other things that are also dear.
Most of all, I hope you are, and remain, safe.
We are thankful to our American friend for this precious feedback.