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Muslim LGBT Report

Muslim LGBT Report

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Published by: LGBT Asylum News on Nov 04, 2011
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Muslim LGBT Inclusion ProjectFinal Reportpresented byIntersections International
274 Fifth AvenueNew York, N.Y. 10001intersectionsinternational.org
 
Intersections Muslim LGBT Inclusion ProjectFinal Report
Forward
Intersections International
1
, a New York based not-for-prot organization based in New York City, received a grant from the Arcus Foundation
2
to do an assessment of the role of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Muslims within the American Muslim communityand the wider society. At Intersections, we had undertaken work in both the Muslim and LGBTcommunities. Although the work was widely regarded in both arenas, there was no “crossover”in these two communities. However, since our very name implies forming “intersections,”we were deemed uniquely suited to host a process that identied how, if and under whatcircumstances the voice of LGBT Muslims could be better understood and articulated.The Muslim LGBT Inclusion Project sought to: initiate one-on-one conversations with Muslimtheologians, religious practitioners, academics and lay people around LGBT issues; explore Qur’anic passages as they relate to homosexuality; consider cultural and historic practices and precedents relatedto LGBT individuals; uncover existing support and resistance to LGBT inclusion and equality; and laythe foundation for an evidence-based strategy for future action in continuing this conversation.To accomplish these objectives, we commissioned three articles by respected scholars inthe elds of Islamic studies: Dr. Hussein Rashid, Dr. Aisha Geissinger and Mr. Munir Shaikh.These articles appear at the conclusion of this report. We also held two dozen one-on-oneconversations with Muslim thought leaders in academia, among clergy, in the communicationsarena, and with youth. These conversations were held with such renowned thinkers as ImamDaayiee Abdullah, Ayaz Ahmed, Imam Bashar Arafat, Mohammed Abu-Nimer, Mona Eltahawy,John Esposito, Samar Habib, El-Farouk Khaki, Shabbir Mansuri, and Laury Silvers.We also hosted six intimate conversations in “safe spaces” around the country whereindividuals from across the spectrum of perspectives on this topic gathered to express thoseviews, share stories and explore concrete suggestions as to how the conversation could continueand expand. Finally, we conducted a survey taken by those present during the gatherings, those
1Founded in 2007, Intersections International is a multi-faith, multi-cultural initiative of the Collegiate Church of New York, theoldest corporation in North America, dating back to 1628. Intersections’ overarching mandate is to bring people together who dif-fer, to honor the differences and to forge common ground for justice, reconciliation and peace. The issues we address are varied, but the process used is fairly consistent — to gather disparate, and often surprising, voices around a common table to explore new paradigms for problem solving that transcend disciplines and shatter stereotypes. Intersections seeks to engage others in a journeythat moves from fear to empathy, from ignorance to understanding, and from apathy to action. Work is concentrated in three primary areas: amplifying marginalized voices (immigrant Muslims in NYC, persons living with HIV/AIDS, Native Americans,LGBT persons); multi-faith dialogue and action (most signicantly in healing the rift between the Muslim and non-Muslimworlds); and addressing the consequences of conict, focusing on two communities — Iraqi refugees and returning U.S. vets — and on the intersection between power and values. We frequently use the arts as a way to engage both hearts and minds. For more information, go towww.intersections.org.2For more information on Arcus Foundation, go towww.arcusfoundation.org.
-i-
 
invited to the gatherings but who were unable to attend, and those with whom we held the one-on-one conversations.This report is a narrative summary of these ndings. It does not pretend to be a scienticstudy, but its anecdotal evidence is not insignicant. We invite the reader along on a journey,where the often difcult subject of homosexuality is discussed openly to see how queer Muslimsmay nd their voice within the
ummah
(Arabic for the Muslim community) and in the wider American civic arena, and what might be done to nurture and support an ongoing dialogue.There are many people to acknowledge, whose passion and professionalism made this project so successful. First and foremost among them are my colleagues Sara Reef, Intersections’Director of Cross Cultural Initiatives, and Sung Park, our Director of Community Engagementand Advancement. They helped direct the project throughout its duration, both conceptually andlogistically, and served as co-facilitators in the gatherings. Evangeline Villena and Barb Powell provided invaluable attention to detail in bringing the report to its nal conclusion. LucretiaHolden and James Rowe provided essential administrative support behind the scenes.Melody Fox Ahmed, Zabrina Santiago, Munir Shaikh, Shabbir Mansuri and DavidPonsart helped organize our six gatherings. I also would like to acknowledge Samar Habib,Laury Silvers and Imam Daayiee Abdullah who offered support and wise counsel in the project’searly days. Finally, I wish to personally thank all those who took the risk to be part of our conversations. Their willingness, in many cases to trust “us stranger,” to participate in a dialoguethat almost everyone agreed was an important but difcult conversation to have, their sensitivity,compassion and thoughtful exchanges were an inspirational thing to behold.The Rev. Robert ChaseFounding Director Intersections International
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