Islam and Homosexuality: Tackling the Taboo – by Ifty Rafiq, Founder of The Harmony Initiative

For centuries, people whose sexuality has not been perceived to conform have been ostracised, imprisoned, tortured and worse. Today, homosexuality is still a capital offence in seven countries. Whatever great religions say about homosexuality, they surely don’t condone these barbaric punishments?

If you want to find out more about this subject either continue reading this blog post or simply watch the video below.

As a young Muslim growing up in Britain, while not gay myself, it’s very obvious to me what a huge, indispensable role the LGBTQ+ community plays in society. But for too long people have, and continue to, hide their true sexuality for fear of ridicule and punishment.

It was actually close family friends from the LGBTQ+ community who inspired me to develop The Harmony Initiative and start trying to address some of the common misconceptions about Islam. Because all intolerance, whether homophobia, islamophobia, anti-Semitism or racism needs to be tackled head on.

It has become all too easy for populist politicians and right-wing political parties to take a swipe at minority groups all of whom, in their own way, have the capacity to contribute valuably to British society. Recently, the former Foreign Secretary made inflammatory comments about the traditional dress of some Muslim women. Whether he really believes those views or not, we need to ensure that the British public is armed with the knowledge it needs to evaluate those comments, and that people of all faiths, sexualities and races have the freedom to express themselves in the way they choose.

A recent protest in Stockton, just down the road from my home town of Middlesbrough, by “Gays Against Sharia UK”, like many others around the UK, contributed to fanning the flames of prejudice against LGBTQ+. A far-right group, focussed on promoting Islamophobia, it seeks to pit Muslims and the LGBTQ+ community against one another. Ironically, elsewhere around the world, it is this same community who campaign tirelessly for tolerance across the board, in, for example, fighting President Trump’s travel ban, the majority of the victims of which are from Muslim countries.

Yes, I am a Muslim, yes, I am a proud Brit, but I am also a human being, and as such I have a God-given responsibility to treat my fellow human beings with compassion, mercy and respect, whatever their sexuality, race, gender or religion. Belonging to one religion, one nation, one sexual classification, does not preclude any of us from our duty to be good neighbours, to contribute to society and to be tolerant of the lifestyles of our fellow citizens.