Dr and Imam Ludovic-Mohamed Zahed has opened the first European LGBT-friendly mosque in France.
He believes that being gay is not a sin, and the negativity surrounding gay people in the Muslim faith is only a recent phenomenon. Zahed calls this new anti-gay movement “modern and new in Islam”.
Zahed provides context for the recent anti-gay mentalities: “It has to do with colonisation, complexes and the fact that Arab Muslim societies are in turmoil and are looking for very macho identities to push forward. But it has nothing to do with Islam as spirituality, because our tradition is much more peaceful in terms of dealing with sexuality and gender identity.”
Imam Zahed chose to found this unique mosque because for him trying to decide between being gay and Muslim is similar to “trying to decide whether to cut off one arm, or the other.”
Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, says the Iman. “We had many people telling us we are dirtying up Islam, but we had many more people telling us ‘you are the true Islam’”.
Dominic Arnall, who works for LGBT charity Stonewall, believes that religions are slowly making progress when it comes to hearing and accepting gay believers. He says: “There are a number of excellent groups springing up, based here in London, all of which are specifically seeking to support LGBT people of faith.”
Blogger Asad Dhunna, like Imam Zahed, refuses to separate his sexuality and religion. “Growing up gay and Muslim in London is a little bit tricky, but I actually do not think there is a better place to do it – I feel quite open and free here.”
“What needs to change in the future is more people having the confidence to speak up and more people thinking it is okay to be gay and Muslim.”
“If you grow up in a traditionally Muslim area, let’s say East London for example, and you are coming out, it can be quite difficult because you might pop along to Shoreditch or over into Soho and you see a completely different world, then go home and think ‘how do I even begin to put this together?’”