LGBTI Muslims condemn homophobic school protests in Birmingham

lgbti muslims at a pride parade

LGBTI Muslims have hit back at protesters who said you can’t be ‘gay and Muslim’ at a protest in Birmingham.

Hundreds of people protested outside the Parkfield Community school in the UK’s second biggest city on Thursday (7 March). They were protesting a proposed LGBTI-inclusive anti-bullying education program called No Outsiders at the school.

Parents held their children back from school in protest of program, with 600 students of the school staging a mass walkout last week. The majority of the students at Parkfield are Muslim, with parents arguing the program violated their religious beliefs. Following the walkout school management temporarily suspended the program.

But protesters took to the streets outside Parkfield to call for a permanent ban on the program. A man standing on the back of a truck shouted ‘shame, shame, shame’ into a microphone.

‘You can’t be gay and Muslim,’ he said.

Worry about anti-gay sentiment

Imaan is a volunteer-led charity dedicated to supporting LGBTI Muslims. Its spokesperson, Faizan, told Gay Star News the homophobic rhetoric had Imaan very worried.

‘We’re saddened and shocked that we’ve been going for 20 years and we’re facing a resurgence of the sentiment being expressed at the meeting,’ they said.

‘And we’re quite worried about that.’

Faizan said the debate around whether the Islamic holy book, the Quran, explicitly outlaws homosexuality has been misinterpreted. They also said LGBTI identities have existed in Islamic history for centuries.

‘We reject the idea that you can’t be LGBTI and Muslim,’ they said.

‘We believe that your sexuality and gender identity are aspects of yourself.

‘Your faith is God given. Gender and sexuality are God given and not something you can choose.’

Not just Muslims

British journalist Sunny Hundal has been reporting from the Birmingham protests. He said ‘people need to pay more attention because this controversy is likely to get bigger’.

Hundal warned it would get bigger because anti-LGBTI Christian and Jewish groups have waded into the debate.

‘If we don’t stand up for children being taught that there’s nothing wrong with being LGBT and such bullying is wrong, it will be a huge setback,’ he wrote on Twitter.

‘This controversy is no longer about Muslims because conservative Jews, Christians and Sikhs are also rallying to their side.’

A speaker from homophobic, conservative Christian group, Christian Voice also spoke at the protest.

Helping LGBTI Muslims

Imaan has worked for 23 years to support LGBTI Muslims in the UK. Faizan said it was now more important than ever they continue their work.

They wanted to let LGBTI Muslims know that they can reach out to Imaan for support.

‘I want to send a message that our primary concern is the welfare of LGBT Muslims out there who might be affected,’ Faizan said.

‘We (Imaan) exist. Come to our meetings, volunteer, donate to us we are completely run by volunteers.

‘There is a huge community out there, reach out and we’ll support as we have done for the past 23 years.’

If you would like to support LGBTQI Muslims with Imaan please consider a donation: Account name: Imaan Account number: 60534196 Sort Code: 20-71-74 Bank name: Barclays

Author: Shannon Power

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