The Homophobia and Stigma Endured with being Gay, Muslim, and Living with HIV

Extraordinary article on three gay Muslim men living with HIV and the taboos encountered, which stifle dialogue within the Muslim community.

No statistics are available about the HIV infection rate among Muslims. Boyd points out that many men convert to Islam while in prison and may not be aware of their infection, and thus take the virus with them back to the community where they may transmit HIV to their partners, both male and female. In this case, silence does indeed equal death.

At the presentation, a social worker asked what could be done to open up lines of communication to the Muslim community regarding MSM and HIV/AIDS education and prevention. All three of the men shook their heads and said, “Nothing.” But then Jenkins theorized that perhaps one way to get a foot in the door would be to frame HIV and other STDs in terms of health disparities, minimizing the association with sex. People might respond better if they thought about it as a fight for health care equality.

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Some Imams Don’t Get It – Compassion Trumps Bigotry – Love Overcomes Hate

Al-Maghrib instructors, Mohammed Faqih (far left) who also serves as the Imam at the IIOC mosque in Anaheim, California and Abdulbary Yahya (next to Faqih) who also serves as the Imam at Masjid Jaamiul Muslimeen in Seattle had this to stay about the recent passage of legislation in New York state legalizing same-sex marriage:

Faqih on his facebook page and twitter: “Nauseated and feeling sick! Couldn’t give tonight’s lecture and had to ask for a sub… I thought it was the sub I had for lunch, turns out to be the “new law” NY has just passed.”

Yahya on his ironically titled blog Nourishing the [Straight] Mind, Body, & Soul:

“Please don’t call it marriage. Dear New York and those who follow your path,If you are going to legalize the union of two people of the same sex, please don’t call it marriage.  Find another word for it.  Marriage from the time of Adam and Eve till now has always been: “The formal union of a man and a woman.” I can help you with some words if you want…like “Gomorrahiage”, “Soddomiage”, and I can go on but I know you guys are smart enough to make one up yourselves.

Oh and please don’t go protesting in front of Websters, Oxford, Cambridge, dictionary,com and other such companies and institutions to force them to change their definition for you.

I once heard Riad Ouarzazi mention his time as a taxi driver in California and his dislike and disdain for picking up gay passengers complete with full affected facial and hand gestures. Once he picked up two gay men and they embraced inside his cab so Ouarzazi made sure to break suddenly at least once or more so their heads would painfully bump against each other and their ride would be as unpleasant as possible. Compassion and mercy FAIL.
To sit in Al-Maghrib Institute classes where bigoted statements about gays and lesbians are normalized is difficult but to their credit not all of the teachers express such bigoted statements publicly. Men who wear dresses and affectionately hug and kiss other men hoping for multicultural understanding shouldn’t throw stones.

East London Mosque Bans Homophobic Imams

Ban homophobic clerics from mosques, gay rights campaigners urge from The Guardian

The East London mosque is now distancing itself from a Muslim man who put up “Gay-Free Zone” stickers in and around the borough where the mosque is located.

In addition, the mosque claims that they will no longer welcome imams and speakers who have made homophobic remarks. Free speech concerns aside, I don’t think we can expect many conservative imams to support gay rights but they can do their part by not encouraging an environment of hateful speech, which leads to a climate where gays are attacked.