As a Muslim, it is my moral obligation to speak out and stand up whenever I see an injustice being carried out, and if I see any particular group that is especially vulnerable or marginalized, it is my moral duty to rush to that community’s aid.
– Melody Moezzi
In the wake of New York’s historic vote to extend the protections of marriage to all couples, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, religious leaders have been in the spotlight. Stories often focus on people like Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, who has spoken out forcefully against marriage equality. GLAAD has worked diligently to amplify the voices of faith leaders who support LGBT equality. Notably missing, however, have been pro-LGBT voices from the Muslim community.
A recent poll of Muslims in the UK indicates that support for LGBT rights has increased dramatically in just the past two years. American Muslims show similar support. Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) states on his official website that he is “working to advance [LGBT] equality in Congress by ending existing discrimination written in federal laws, giving law enforcement tools to pursue perpetrators of hate crimes, and extending marriage rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples and families.” Saqib Ali, the first Muslim elected to Maryland’s state legislature, echoes Ellison’s views, stating that marriage equality “doesn’t affect [his] marriage; it doesn’t affect anybody else’s marriage.” Ali’s support for LGBT equality comes from an understanding that he “represent[s] people of all faiths and no faith at all. If [he] tried to enforce religion by law — as in a theocracy — [he] would be doing a disservice to [his] both constituents and to [his] religion.”
Ibrahim Abdul-Matin, who is both Muslim and African American, relates his support for LGBT equality to his own identity. He states that “[m]ajorities in the country have attempted to define the American experience in limited and controlled terms,” but “[t]his is a diverse nation and to limit the rights of one group opens the potential to limit [the] rights” of all Americans. Melody Moezzi, an author and UN Global Expert, also argues that Muslims must stand up for the equality of all minority groups, stating, “if we, as Muslims, expect our rights to be respected around the world, then we too must respect the rights of other minority groups.”
Support networks for LGBT Muslims have appeared throughout the United States and the rest of the world. The most prominent in the US is Al-Fatiha, which has the support of several Imams; there are also local groups in several regions of the United States. Canada’s Salaam network has chapters throughout the country and is dedicated to being a resource for LGBT Muslims in Canada. Support for LGBT equality within the Muslim community has not been widely publicized, but it is important to note that it exists; and just as in many other communities, it is growing. GLAAD is proud to amplify the voices of those who have spoken out in support of the LGBT community, both in the United States and abroad.