Muslim MPs unanimously support gay marriage in Germany, Islamic associations split on the issue

On June 30, the German Parliament voted to legalise gay marriage – or, as it has become known in Germany, the “marriage for all” (Ehe für alle). The path to this decision had been a tumultuous one; and the vote in the Bundestag came only after a surprise move in which Chancellor Angela Merkel, a long-time opponent of gay marriage, relinquished her principled opposition.

Downfall of a bastion of conservatism

While the Chancellor still voted against the marriage equality bill, her own party – the Christian Democratic Union – was split, with 225 CDU-parliamentarians opposing the bill, and 75 supporting it. The other parties – Social Democrats, Greens, and Left – gave the bill their quasi-unanimous backing.

Thus, many in the CDU were not willing to give up what has been perceived as one of the last core conservative positions of their party. A number of CDU politicians also adduced religious reasons for the rejection of the bill, deeming the opening of the marriage relation to homosexual couples a contravention of the Christian principles the CDU is grounded upon.(( http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/inland/gleichstellung-bundestag-beschliesst-ehe-fuer-alle-15084396.html?printPagedArticle=true#pageIndex_2 ))

Muslim MPs support “marriage for all”

Interestingly enough, none of the Muslim members of Parliament shared the qualms of the Christian conservatives. All parliamentarians of Islamic faith supported the bill. To be sure, the extent to which these men and women felt and identified as distinctly ‘Muslim’ when they made this decision is open to question. Most Muslims in Germany’s parliament are situated on the left of the political spectrum, in a milieu that is often quite secular.

The more interesting case in this respect is perhaps Cemile Giousouf, the CDU’s only Muslim MP and a strong backer of gay marriage. Giousouf has stated that her religious convictions were a “determining factor” in her decision to join the CDU:

“The CDU gives space to religious feeling. This is important for me. It is a party that represents a value-bound politics derived from the Christian conception of man. For the CDU, religion is not a marginal phenomenon. There are more commonalities than differences between Christians and Muslims. We both feel responsible to man and to our Creator for our deeds. Thus there was no question for me that my political commitment was right only in this party.”((https://www.welt.de/regionales/duesseldorf/article114268231/So-etwas-hat-es-in-der-CDU-noch-nie-gegeben.html ))

The conundrum of organised religion

Organised religion and its representatives remain split on the issue of gay marriage. On the one hand, the German Lutheran churches have for a considerable while abandoned any past opposition to the legal and religious recognition of homosexual partnerships.

On the other hand, the Catholic Church, in line with dogma from Rome, continues to oppose the “marriage for all”. Yet ahead of the vote in the Bundestag, the voice of the Catholic Church was scarcely heard and it seemed as if the Roman clergy had resigned itself a long time ago to the fact that, in spite of its dismay, the full recognition of homosexual marriage would only be a matter of time.(( http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/2017-06/gleichgeschlechtliche-ehe-katholische-kirche-ablehnung-reformation ))

Liberal-Islamic Union backs gay marriage

Islamic religious organisations did not figure as prominently in the recent public debate as their Christian counterparts. Yet they have not been completely absent, either. Already in May, 2017, the Liberal-Islamic Union (LIB), a small socially progressive Muslim umbrella body, came out in support of gay marriage.

One of the LIB’s board members, Annika Mehmeti, highlighted that in no instance does the Quran explicitly define “marriage” as limited to a man and a woman. Nor does the holy book define the begetting of children as the sine qua non condition of the marriage relation. Instead, the Quran lays its focus on the mutual commitment of the spouses and on the duties they have towards each other, or so Mehmeti argues.(( https://www.welt.de/politik/deutschland/article164652401/Der-Koran-erlaubt-die-Homo-Ehe.html ))

Silence of the conservative associations

The other Islamic associations, which tend to be more conservative in outlook, have been much more equivocal than the LIB. For the most part, they have simply avoided to comment on the issue of homosexual partnerships.

While some of their members will undoubtedly support gay marriage (or perhaps do not see it as such a big deal), many will also hold deep reservations. Against this backdrop, keeping silent may be a preferred option, since it allows the associations to dodge uncomfortable questions.

The mental gymnastics that the mainline conservative forces have had to undertake in this respect mirror the contortions of the Catholic Church. They are epitomised by a statement by Aiman Mazyek, media-savvy chairman of the Central Council of Muslims in Germany (ZMD), in a 2016 interview:

“For my own part, and from a religious standpoint, I do not accept homosexuality. Yet at the same time I stand up against homophobia, as a Muslim.”(( http://zentralrat.de/27637.php ))

Popular Muslim attitudes

Among the German population at large, support for gay marriage had been high for a considerable number of years: in a 2013 survey, 87% of individuals unaffiliated with any religion, 78% of Protestants, 70% of Catholics, and 48% of Muslims had supported full marriage equality for homosexual couples.

Yet survey results are far from unequivocal. A 2012 study among Turks in Germany reported that 51% of respondents agreed to the statement that “homosexuality is an illness”.(( https://web.archive.org/web/20121011112234/https://d171.keyingress.de/multimedia/document/228.pdf )) Conversely, a 2015 study found that 60% of German Muslims supported gay marriage.(( https://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/de/presse-startpunkt/presse/pressemitteilungen/pressemitteilung/pid/muslime-in-deutschland-mit-staat-und-gesellschaft-eng-verbunden/ ))

Pressure from abroad

To some extent, the unease and hostility with which the LGBT community is viewed from many Islamic quarters is not only – perhaps not even primarily – rooted in (putative) homophobic sensibilities among German Muslims. Rather, religious institutions and societal pressures from abroad continue to play a large role.

This dynamic has been in evidence in the context of the fierce criticisms directed at the recently opened “gender-equal” mosque in Berlin by Turkish and Egyptian authorities. In cases such as these, it is voices from Middle Eastern countries that make an opening towards ‘divergent’ paths more difficult to achieve for Islamic associations operating in Germany.

Resistance to Muslim-LGBT dialogue

This lesson was also learned in 2014 by Ender Çetin, chairman of the DİTİB-run Şehitlik mosque in Berlin at the time. He agreed to convene a discussion round between Muslim and LGBT representatives at his mosque. The resulting backlash came first of all from DİTİB’s Turkish parent organisation and from Turkish media: Turkish newspapers accused Çetin of opening the mosque to “abnormal” homosexuals.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/panorama/diskussion-in-berlin-homosexualitaet-und-islam-unvereinbar-1.2237310 ))

As a response, the meeting did not take place at the mosque, and a number of DİTİB’s theologians and clerics that had initially agreed to participate in the forum withdrew.(( http://www.sueddeutsche.de/panorama/diskussion-in-berlin-homosexualitaet-und-islam-unvereinbar-1.2237310 )) Since then, the purges of Turkish state organisations in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt have not stopped short of DİTİB, and the liberal-leaning governing board of the Şehitlik mosque has been at least partly removed.

Founder of group ‘Muslims for Progressive Values’ discusses homopobia in the Islamic community

In response to the Orlando shooting, a group called Muslims for Progressive Values is calling on mosques to come out against homophobia and violence against the LGBT community.
Ani Zonneveld is the founder and president of the organization. She talked about the issue of homophobia in the Islamic community. For more information, go to the website mpvusa.org

Foxla.com: http://www.foxla.com/news/161227936-story

How the Orlando attack could mark a shift for gay Muslims

Like their counterparts worldwide, many gay Muslims in the United States have long felt doubly ostracized – both by the wider national culture and by their co-religionists. But in the days since the massacre of 49 people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., there have been some signs of acceptance by Islamic organizations and religious institutions more often known for shying away from LGBT issues than for speaking forcefully in defense of gay people.
To the surprise of many Muslims, some of the largest U.S. Islamic organizations, accustomed over the 14 years since 9/11 to quickly cobbling together news conferences and messaging against terrorism, decided to loudly, even eloquently, stand up in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
“Homophobia, transphobia and Islamophobia” are “interconnected systems of oppression,” Council of American-Islamic Relations national Executive Director Nihad Awad said Sunday at a Washington, D.C., news conference. Later, the organization delayed a report it planned to release on Islamophobia, saying in an email that “discussion should focus on anti-LGBT hate.”
LA Times: http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-gay-muslim-20160614-20160612-snap-story.html

Moroccan Boat Participates in Amsterdam Gay Pride Parade

August 2, 2014

This year’s Gay Pride in Amsterdam featured a Moroccan boat in the canal parade. This is the first time a boat designated specifically Moroccan has been included. Also participating in the Gay Pride parade was a Jewish boat, a boat representing the Amsterdam police, and a cohort of members of the armed forces and the city council.

Study: Muslim job candidates may face discrimination in Republican states

November 26, 2013

 

A new study by Carnegie Mellon University found that in the most Republican states in the country, employers may be less likely to interview job candidates whose social networking profiles indicate that the applicants are Muslim.

As part of a social experiment, the researchers created four fictitious job candidates – each with a unique name that most likely points to someone who is male, U.S. born and Caucasian. The candidates had identical resumes. The researchers also created social network profiles for each of the candidates that revealed either his sexual orientation or whether he was a Muslim or Christian. All other information, including the profile photograph used for each candidate, was the same. The resumes, which did not mention the candidates’ online profile, were then sent out to more than 4,000 employers nationwide with job openings.

Readers should note that the study’s authors did not design the pool of open jobs to be representative of all jobs available in the country, or in Republican-leaning or Democrat-leaning states. The number of job vacancies varied from state to state, and overall, a smaller share of all open jobs was located in Republican states.

In both Republican and Democratic states, there was no difference between the call backs received by the gay candidate as compared with the straight candidate. But in the Republican states, the Christian candidate received more interview calls than the Muslim candidate. In the 10 states with the highest proportion of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney voters in the 2012 election, 17% of Christian applicants received interview calls, compared with 2% of the Muslim job candidates. There were no differences in call backs received by the Christian and Muslim candidates in the 10 states with the lowest proportion of Romney voters.

The study is not the first to pick up on perceived negative views of Muslims in America. Nearly half of Muslim Americans pointed to either negative views about Muslims (29%) or discrimination and prejudice (20%) as the most pressing issues facing their community in a 2011 Pew Research Center survey. At the same time, however, more than half (56%) of Muslim Americans surveyed also said that they are satisfied with the way things are going in the country.

The Carnegie Mellon study also seems to support our findings about workplace treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. An overwhelming proportion of LGBT Americans say they are more accepted in society today than they were 10 years ago, according to our 2013 survey. When asked about specific experiences with discrimination, 5% of LGBT Americans say that in the past year they have been treated unfairly by an employer because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

 

Pew Research Center: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/11/26/study-muslim-job-candidates-may-face-discrimination-in-republican-states/

Largest U.S. Muslim Organization Supports LGBT Anti-Discrimination Bill

November 11, 2013

 

Last week, one of the clearest shifts in the decades-long debate over Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) came into light from the largest U.S.-based Muslim organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), joined a broad interfaith coalition, calling ENDA a “measured, common sense solution that will ensure workers are judged on their merits, not on their personal characteristics like sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In a historic advancement for the LGBT rights movement, the Senate on Thursday approved ENDA, a bill that protects against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Despite advances in anti-discrimination in the workplace, Muslims continue to face unfair job discrimination. Our shared experiences of discrimination can provide a common basis to work with one another to mold a more inclusive America.

Commenting on the shift of tone, Dr. Sharon Groves, Director of HRC’s Religion and Faith Program, regarded ISNA’s support of ENDA as a major step in right direction.

“LGBT Muslims both in the U.S. and abroad need to hear from organizations like ISNA that their experiences as Muslims are recognized in the spirit of Islam’s emphasis on compassion and respect for all humanity,” said Groves.

The movement for greater acceptance of LGBT people in Islam is growing. LGBT Muslims continue to be at the forefront of cutting edge scholarship at the intersection of Islam and issues affecting the lives of LGBT Muslims. Around the nation and the world, LGBT Muslims and their allies are working to build an inclusive faith — and having some notable success.

 

Human Rights Campaign: http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/largest-u.s.-muslim-organization-supports-lgbt-anti-discrimination-bill

Meeting Featuring Anti-Gay Islamist Canceled by University of East London

20 March 2013

 

A meeting featuring Khalid Yashin, an anti-gay Islamist preacher, scheduled to be hosted by the University of East London (UEL) last Friday, 15 March, was canceled after lobbying by the UEL LGBT Society and the Peter Tatchell Foundation. The meeting was scheduled to be held on the UEL Stratford campus.

 

Khalid Yashin has previously said that homosexuality and lesbianism are sins and aberrations and has endorsed the execution of gay people. Yahin’s controversial positions and the insistence of the event organizers on gender segregated seating prompted a backlash by university groups and human rights organizations, who claim that such events are contrary to the tolerant university environment.

 

The UEL student union issued a statement announcing the cancelation of the event, but neither they nor the UEL administration issued a public denunciation of Khalid Yashin’s positions or of his invitation to speak on campus.

A new wave of Muslim feminists

Amongst the many contemporary reformist movements of Islam, one is concerned with the promotion of progressive and inclusive ideals such as gender equality and deals with questions on sexuality, homosexuality and transgender identities. What is called Islamic feminism is a tradition which emerged in Iran as an intellectual movement based on the critical exegesis of the Quran. The movement of Islamic feminists consists of religious women and religious feminists who refuse to be discriminated by their religion. They claim the right to reject bias and unjust interpretations of Islam and are open towards the inclusion and integration of LGBT Muslims.

The recent debate on same sex marriage in France and the institutionalisation of a “French Islam” renders greater importance towards progressive and inclusive interpretations of Islam. As such, reformist movements like that of Islamic feminism might help to eliminate gender bias and sexual discrimination amongst Muslims in France. As the imam of Bordeaux, Tareq Oubrou, recently declared, homosexuality is not condemned by the Quran or the sunna.

Some reformist movements in France have embraced Islamic feminism and the opening of the first inclusive mosque in France which conducts same sex marriages indicates that there are sections amongst the Muslim population that are receptive towards these progressive ideas.

Imam marries gay couple in Paris

News Agencies – March 2, 2012

 

Ludovic and Qiyaam were married in South Africa last August. This week they got married by an imam in Paris. More than forty friends and members of HM2F – Muslim gays of France – attended the event. Christian and Jewish LGBT organizations were also invited. The ceremony was conducted by Jamal, originally from Mauritius, who heads the Prayer and Meditation group in HM2F. Christian and Jewish clergymen then added their blessings.

Ludovic says he received the blessings of his family, who reside in Marseille and came for the occasion. He added that he has more problems with French law.

Association of British Muslims condemn homophobic stickers

15 February 2011

The Association of British Muslims has condemned the homophobic stickers which were calling for a gay-free zone throughout East London.

Co-director Paul Salahuddin Armstrong told PinkPaper.com: “There is nothing in the Qur’an against LGBT people. “Allah has honoured every son/daughter of Adam, so such a hateful message is not only morally and ethically wrong but actually unislamic. We call upon the police to open an immediate investigation into who put these stickers up in an attempt to spread hatred.”