This Channel 4 documentary shows how the experiences of five lesbian and gay Muslims in Britain challenge the heterosexual bias in Muslim communities and illustrate the diversity within Islam. Tamsila Tauqir reports
Over the sinister introductory music to the programme, presenter Sonia Deol says: ‘Islam is fierce in its condemnation of homosexuality.’ Let’s be fair, antagonism towards homosexuality is no more exclusive to any one community than favouring men, the able-bodied and those with wealth and power.
Some 200 lesbian and gay Muslims were contacted by the programme makers but only a handful were willing to be interviewed, and most of those insisted on keeping their identities hidden. Only one was prepared to show his face and give his true name. He was Adnan Ali, an activist on issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) Muslims.
Adnan described how, when he first came out about his sexuality in Pakistan, he was physically and verbally abused. He then came to the UK, where he chatted online with members of the Al-fatiha Foundation in the States. Al-fatiha is an international organisation dedicated to questioning Muslims who are LGBT and their friends. Adnan then set-up a sister group called Al-fatiha UK, now called Imaan.
The interviewees speak of their commitment to and belief in Islam, though instead of having their beliefs supported by their community and family, they face being ostracised. ‘Razeem’ speaks of his pain at being denied access to the children of his previous marriage, despite having a legal right to access and the fact that his wife ran away with another man. He also wishes there were more role models, like Adnan Ali, for gay Muslims.
‘Shakir’ and his parents find it easier to accept lesbianism than gay men’s homosexuality. ‘Farah’ contemplates going back into the closet, to lie about her sexuality to ease the tension in her relationship with her parents. Presenter Sonia Deol says that the gay Muslim group, Imaan, supports the idea of ‘keeping sexuality a private matter’.
[b]MONDAY 23TH JANUARY CHANNEL FOUR 8PM[/b]