“Al-Fatiha” and “Imaan” offer hope for gay Muslims living in the UK

With the advent of civil partnerships it is easy to forget that significant sections of the gay community in the UK live in fear. There are approximately 125,000 gay Muslims in the UK and most live with feelings of shame and guilt. Although leading clerics assert homosexuality to be against the teaching of the Quran, there are tentative signs of the beginnings of an acceptance within the Muslim establishment, and the internet provides an important forum for gay Muslims to connect and support each other.

Most Muslims could never imagine that someone praying beside them at their local Mosque could possibly be gay. Islam teaches that homosexuality is evil, and as a result most gay men and lesbians will remain in the closet or choose not to follow their natural instincts. With around 1.25 million Muslims in the UK, it is estimated that the challenge of being homosexual in this community affects around 125,000 individuals every day.

In the context of this oppressive environment, gay Muslims seek alternative means of support in the community. An example is the website forum Al-Fatiha, a support group for gay Muslims, that currently conducts the first survey on Muslims who are “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer, and questioning or exploring their gender identity and/or sexual orientation (LGBTIQQ)”, cp. http://www.al-fatiha.org. Another example is Imaan (Faith), a social support group for the same target group, at http://www.imaan.org.uk.