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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Royston BS: At last a Pope talks some sense (457* d) RE: BS: At last a Pope talks some sense 24 Feb 10

Are there differences between the experience of Gay Muslims and Gay Christians? Probably, but it depends a lot on where you happen to be and in what sort of a community you happen to be a part of.

In the UK, Gay Muslims receive a good deal more abuse people for the fact of being Muslim than they do for being gay - whether or not any homophobic abuse comes from their own faith or ethnic communities.

The only significant Qur'anic reference to homosexuality is the story of Lut (Lot in The Bible). It is the same story in both traditions, the same doubts and disagreements apply. Did God destroy the cities of the plains for homosexual acts per se, or was it for the total collapse of any sort of law, decency and order resulting ultimately in rape, including the rape of angels. Whereas people always quote Sodom and Gomorrah as a justification for homophobia, Gibea was destroyed in much the same way but following a heterosexual rape (Judges? I think).

The only serious proscriptions on sexual conduct in the Qur'an relate to promiscuity and sex outside of marriage.

So homophobia is essentially a set of cultural baggage. I's that way for Muslims, for Christians, for Jews and Hindus and Buddhists. It's also that way for the atheist or agnostic bigots.

In Muslim communities, the community is far more important than any individual, but every individual is incredibly important because the community can't exist without them and it depends on everybody showing an equal level of respect, care and courtesy to everyone else.

So a gay man or woman can be known to be homosexual and can normally expect to be treated with exactly the same public respect and courtesy as any other member of the community.

Now, that person might be the topic of intense gossip (either salacious, supportive or of the disapproving type) that's just people being people, to expect and receive respect and courtesy is all that anyone (Gay or Straight) really aspires to. There will be some bigots that use faith as a justification for their prejudice, but faith can't be the reason for it because others will find their faith motivates them to be compassionate and respectful.

The caveat for a Muslim may be that you have to play your role in the status quo. Acknowledge people's sensibilities, be respectful, behave according to the community's understood norms of politeness, modesty etc. It's the same for any private behaviour, gay or straight. Is that a bad thing? Do what you like but do it privately and respectfully?

It isn't a lot different, in my experience of both types of community, to some Christian religious communities in the USA, or in Europe (Germany, Switzerland spring to mind).

If you are in Saudi Arabia, be afraid. Very afraid. If you are in Iran, keep your head well down. In Asia / South East Asia, communities can be surprisingly tolerant, embracing even. Male intimacy (non-sexual) is an accepted and normal way of behaving. There is far more of a mystical tradition of Islam that stems from the pre-Islamic religions and it can be very much easier to be a part of a sexual minority - but more so if you fit the template created for those minorities. In some places it is easier to be an effeminate gay man than it is to be, or to appear to be, more typically masculine.

It's complicated. It varies. Yes, allowing for all the variables it is probably as easy to be an openly gay Muslim as it is to be an openly gay Catholic. Maybe even easier, in some ways. Islam does not "pronounce" on anything - there is no structure for pronouncing. Sure, it doesn't stop some Muslims from pronoucing on all sorts of things but they are rather like the sound of one hand clapping - they have no authority and Muslims have to decide to take it or leave it.

What you learn from a thread like this is that with all the apparatus and authority that The Pope has, individual Catholics will still, naturally, follow their own conscience as they go about life. You can't assume anything about the ethical conduct of a Catholic person, just because The Pope asks them to act in certain ways. The same for an Anglican. The same for a Muslim, a member of a faith that has no central authority whatever. You have to get to know and understand individuals - a good rule for any situation.

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