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This is perhaps the first question an individual questioning or perturbed by one’s inclinations might ask. The question or frustration may begin perhaps from a noticeable lack of interest in the opposite gender along with perhaps a subtle or overt interest in member(s) of the same gender. Being homosexual simply has to do with persistent/recurring sexual, affectional and/or romantic attraction on a long term basis for member(s) of the same gender. Physical, sexual acts may or may not accompany that attraction. Establishing physical/sexual acts between members of the same gender does not make the involved individuals homosexual let alone imparting any identity of gay or lesbian onto them, for after all male to male sexual acts in prison does not make such persons gay and neither the rape of old women during genocides/wars confer upon the perpetrators of such crimes the disposition/orientation of having interest in elderly women. No authority is in a position to tell one whether one is homosexual, gay or lesbian. Only the person who is experiencing such an attraction is in a position to make this decision to label oneself. Finally, contrary to the common understanding of Muslim experts that homosexuality is synonymous with the act of anal intercourse, it is to be appreciated that having anal intercourse does not make one homosexual, and likewise not having anal intercourse does not make a gay person straight. For more information please click [Insert link to Fakhra’s FAQs] 2) Can I tell if someone is homosexual? Males with feminine traits are not necessarily homosexual or gay, and likewise females with masculine traits are not necessarily homosexual or lesbian. For instance, if the following two pictures are observed it would be wrong to conclude that the person on the RHS was gay and the person on the right straight, for Sir Ian Mckellan is gay actor and Marilyn Manson is a straight musician.
3) Is homosexuality a deliberate evil choice or a contagious disease? While most contemporary Muslim experts tend to view homosexuality as resultant of a bad or lewd environment, several others remain open to the possibility of biological factors. Dr. Hossam E. Fadel, chairman of the Islamic Medical Association of North America’s ethics committee, for instance, states that while homosexuality is not a “normal behavior,” its causes have yet to be determined with certainty. Likewise, Dr. Issam Bannoura, director of the Bethlehem Mental Hospital in the West Bank classifies homosexuality as an untreatable “abnormal” behavior but not as a disorder. However, Dr Qazi Rahman, a lecturer in cognitive biology at Queen Mary, University of London, clearly states that homosexuality is determined early during the foetal development. In the middle ages, Qusta Ibn Luqa believed that homosexuality was often inherited, as did Ar-Razi and many other Muslim scientific writers. Qusta in fact appears to have classified men based on their disposition toward men, women or both. A medieval medical monograph attributed to Ar-Razi ascribes a genetic origin to passive male homosexual conduct by indicating that the male or female properties of a child are determined by the degree of "forcefulness" of the male sperm in "transforming" the female "sperm" at conception. Thus, far from being a deliberate evil choice or a contagious disease homosexuality indeed appears to be a natural variation in human sexuality as also confirmed by the following prestigious organizations. The American Psychological Association released a Statement on Homosexuality in 1994-JUL. Their first two paragraphs are: The research on homosexuality is very clear. Homosexuality is neither mental illness nor moral depravity. It is simply the way a minority of our population expresses human love and sexuality. Study after study documents the mental health of gay men and lesbians. Studies of judgment, stability, reliability, and social and vocational adaptiveness, all show that gay men and lesbians function every bit as well as heterosexuals. The Academy of Pediatrics and the Council on Child and Adolescent Health have also stated that homosexuality is not a choice and cannot be changed. The American Medical Association (AMA) released a report in 1994-DEC which calls for "nonjudgmental recognition of sexual orientation by physicians." They suggest that psychotherapy be directed help homosexuals "become comfortable with their sexual orientation." For more information please click [Insert link to Fakhra’s FAQs]
4) Is homosexuality a natural variation of sexuality? Homosexual behavior is natural in the sense that it is extensively found in nature. It has been observed in: antelopes, boars, bulls, chimpanzees, cows, ducks, cats, dogs, fruit flies, geese, gorillas, gulls, horses, humans, langurs, rams, sheep, macaques, monkeys, turkeys and vervets. Bruce Bagemihl, a biologist from Seattle, WA, found that in zoos, at least 5% of Humboldt penguin pairs are gay. He has prepared an encyclopedic survey of homosexual or transgender behavior among more than 190 species, including butterflies and other insects. Another source states that "Homosexuality exists in proven ratios in all mammal species....It is as natural as blue eyes, left-handedness, or the genetic predisposition to walk on two legs." It is interesting to note that the Greek philosopher Aristotle noted apparent homosexual behaviour among hyenas about 2300 years ago. For more information please click http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_fixe1.htm 5) Regardless of the ‘natural arguments’, is reparative therapy a viable solution to get rid of homosexual feelings and emotions? In 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association, American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association, Interfaith Alliance Foundation, National Association of School Psychologists, National Association of Social Workers and National Education Association jointly issued a document titled: "Just the facts about sexual orientation." The document condemned reparative therapy as potentially harmful and of little or no effectiveness. There might be some “experts” in Pakistan, who would claim that adherence to Islamic injunctions, reading the Quran, prayers, fasting, working out or playing a sport, keeping a good company, a possible marriage might all sort out homosexual feelings. However, all of this assumes that the person experiencing homosexual feelings has or is necessarily already acting upon them. While prescriptions of marriage spell out a disaster for the newly created family unit, praying and keeping good company only serve to maintaining the individual’s celibacy. The unadulterated feelings that emerge from within or the disposition/orientation never actually gets converted. Its akin to asking a straight person to spend a lifetime in celibacy and prayer or marriage to someone that individual is not even remotely interested in. For more information please click http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_prof.htm and [Insert link to Fakhra’s FAQs]
6) Can one be Muslim and homosexual? Being homosexual, gay or lesbian has to do with one’s inner constitution whereas being Muslim has to do with one’s belief system. Thus, both are mutually exclusive properties/characteristics of an individual. One has more choice on being Muslim than does one have on being homosexual. Religion can be changed but inner disposition is much harder to change if at all it can be. Different persons throughout Muslim history have been known to have harboured homosexual inclinations or expressed them in their poetry – Shah Abbas, Abu Nuwas, Ibn Quzman, Ibn Al Farra and Al Mutamid to name a few. Although academically it might be inappropriate to label them as gay since the word is predominantly as Western construct. In contemporary times, organizations like Al Fatiha, Imaan, Safa Project have sprung up to cater to the needs of Muslims who are homosexuals. Famous Muslims like Irshad Manji, Lord Waheed Alli, Iftikhar Nasim identify themselves as gay or lesbian. Having a homosexual orientation does not violate the Shariah in any way, as the latter addresses behavior and conduct and not disposition/orientation. So far as establishing sexual contact with members of the same gender is concerned there is a difference of opinion, with the majority of the Ulema throughout Muslim history against such relationships. For more information please click [Insert link to my 75 page monograph] 7) What does the Quran say about homosexuality? The Quran does not say anything about having a homosexual orientation. What the Quran addresses is certain specific homosexual conduct. The Quran addresses the story of the people of Lot in several occasions as follows. These verses are usually quoted in condemnation of male homosexual relationships. And (We sent) Lut when he said to his people: What! Do you commit an indecency which any one in the world has not done before you? (7:80 (variant: 29:28)) Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people. (7:81 (variants: 26:165-166, 27:55)) What! Do you come to the males and commit robbery on the highway, and you commit evil deeds in your assemblies? But nothing was the answer of his people except that they said: Bring on us Allah's punishment, if you are one of the truthful. (29:29) According to the understanding of most exegetes and jurists, all these verses - (7:80-81; 26:160-166, 27:54-55, 29:28-29) – refer specifically to anal intercourse between males. The Quran is indeed not explicit on other sexual conduct between males as well as on lesbian sexual relationships; however jurists principally deduce that lesbian relationships also stand prohibited and condemned.
A contemporary minority opinion contests the claims of the majority by stating that the acts of the people of Lot had to do with coercion, inhospitality and violence and as such the quoted verses do not have any bearing on homosexual relationships. The following arguments may be brought about in the critique of the prevalent opinions. First, the people of Lot have been dated to exist around 1800 BCE, whereas homosexuality has been depicted in Egypt, Mesopotamia and Brazil as far back as 2450 BCE, 3000 BCE and as far back as 12,000 years respectively. Second, assuming only 4% of the population is homosexual; it becomes clear that the verses are depicting the predominantly heterosexual people of Lot. Finally, narratives from Tabari, Qisas Al Anbiya texts, and commentaries of the Jalalyn all indicate that the people of Lot were involved in acts of coercion, assault and violence. Thus, according to the contemporary minority opinion, the Quran does not address homosexual relationships. For more information please click [Insert link to my 75 page monograph] 8) What do the Hadith / Sunnah say about homosexuality? Unfortunately, gruesome capital punishments are at times prescribed based on the Hadith literature, yet it is also a fact, as attested by many rational Muslim thinkers, that most Hadith in this context are dubious. Likewise, it is also clear that most opinions of jurists indicate a lack of appreciation of the issue or indicate a negative bias on same sex relationships. It is also true that Sunnah of the Prophet has underscored the importance of Nikah between a man and a woman in Islam. However, there have always been exceptions to this institution in the form of Imams who did not marry or in the form of rulings that allowed marriages of intersexuals. Thus, according to the contemporary minority opinion, the Hadith / Sunnah do not address/condemn homosexual relationships. For more information please click [Insert link to my 75 page monograph] 9) What can I do about sex as a practicing Muslim who is homosexual? Some Muslim gays and lesbians decide not to act on their sexual feelings and choose to be celibate. Others feel intimacy as a natural need and decide to engage in sexual conduct in a long term monogamous relationship perhaps based on their understanding of the Muslim jurisprudential concept of necessity trumping any overt prohibition. Several Muslim gay men may decide to avoid anal intercourse based on their understanding that anal sex is generally considered prohibited even among husbands and wives. Some establish sexual relationships in the form of alternative arrangements like Mutah or Misyar. Several others divorce their sexual lives from their religious lives and end up experiencing sexual conduct with multiple persons while perhaps being married to a member of the opposite gender. While, this last alternative on sexual conduct may not be ideal, the important thing to remember is that sexual conduct does not disqualify a person from being a Muslim.
Gay and lesbian Muslims may also appreciate the fact that many gays and lesbians have formed long term relationships that have extended to as long as 75 years despite many taboos and challenges. Please click http://www.buddybuddy.com/famous.html for a list of such famous couples. 10) What if male anal sex is a necessity for intimacy for someone? Assuming anal sex is deemed as a transgression by such an individual, who, nonetheless, needs such conduct in his life, for such an individual instead of breaking away from God; one can come closer to God by doing other multiple good deeds like charity and many forms of social work. Of course, this question does not arise amongst others who do not deem anal intercourse as a transgression. 11) Is it necessary for male homosexuals to have anal sex for intimacy? Steven Bereznai, in his book “Gay and Single forever”, states that even among the sexual casual sexual encounters of gay men, anal penetration is not assumed. He points toward a study, which found that anal intercourse ranks in fourth in gay men's preferred sexual behaviour. Likewise a sex Columnist from ‘Ask Alice’ states: Many gay men do not have anal sex. And while many people stereotypically view anal stimulation as a homosexual male act, anal sex is a sexual behavior, not tied to a group of people. Physical, emotional, social, and sexual attractions, not behaviors, are key factors in a person's understanding of his or her sexual orientation. Much of the pornography available, marketed toward people of any sexual orientation, provides extreme and stylized examples of fantasies. As a result, it's easy to assume that these images are the "right" way to have sex. Anal sex is portrayed as quite normal in porn imagery, but, in reality, it occurs much less frequently than other sexual behaviors. 12) What about marriage and procreation? Some straight couples cannot conceive, whereas others decide not to have children. Having children appears to be more of a social requirement than an overtly religious one. Family pressure might exist especially from parents to have grand children, and likewise haunting images of isolation in old age might be a concern, yet the decision to adopt children, if at all possible and given the prohibition of artificial insemination, should ideally be made dependent on whether the same sex couple is willing to shoulder the responsibility of rearing children together. The right of a child to have a decent upbringing perhaps overrides personal concerns of saving face in the family, appeasing parents and planning about being taken care of in old age.
13) Why am I gay? While it may not be exactly clear why God has created homosexuals, it could be said that there has to be some Divine wisdom behind that just as in the case of many others with different characteristics. One reason might be evoked from one of the National Geographic issues that depicts two male penguins that are caring of a penguin infant while engaging in homosexual acts with each other. Perhaps, gays and lesbians, while establishing a strong bond with their partners, have been sent to care for the orphaned children, or the children of their siblings, or given the absence of family responsibilities they can focus on teaching Quran to others, devoting considerable time to others, holding community leadership positions in mosques, charities, or other causes. Whatever might be the case, the important thing to understand is that a homosexual might be as near to God as many of the ones who tread on the right path. Gay and lesbian Muslims, like any other regular Muslim will be rewarded for their good deeds as any other Muslim in the Hereafter. In the words of a religious scholar: Many of them [homosexuals] are sincere Muslims …. They too stand in prayer by night and whole-heartedly spend in the way of God by day. They too love their neighbour the way they love their own selves. They might be nearer to God than many of the righteous we see around us. 14) Do not other Abrahamic faiths condemn homosexuality? Both Conservative and Reform Judaism support same sex unions as do several sects of the Christian faith. Pakistani Christians may find the following statement by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu quite comforting. Jesus did not say, 'If I be lifted up I will draw some'." Jesus said, 'If I be lifted up I will draw all, all, all, all, all. Black, white, yellow, rich, poor, clever, not so clever, beautiful, not so beautiful. It's one of the most radical things. All, all, all, all, all, all, all, all. All belong. Gay, lesbian, so-called straight. All, all are meant to be held in this incredible embrace that will not let us go. All. 15) What can people who hate homosexuals be told? Most often feelings of hate are based on ignorance, misunderstanding, and fear of the unknown. Perhaps rather than hate, most people express disapproval of certain conduct and such attitudes often change with education. As for the staunch religious zealots, who despite having gone through the alternate arguments still consider gays and lesbians as sinful, perhaps they can be reminded of two of the illustrious sayings of the Holy Prophet (upon whom be peace).
Min Siffat al-mu'min tark maa laa yaliih A characteristic of the Believer is that he does not concern himself with what does not concern him Allah will cover up on the Day of Judgement the defect (faults) of the one who covers up the faults of the others in this world. 16) If gay and lesbian Muslims are allowed to form same sex unions, will that not encourage pedophilia, bestiality, incest and polygamy in our societies? It needs to be appreciated that in the case of pedophilia, bestiality and incest, the very element that leads to marriage “consent” is clearly lacking apart from the clear Quranic text against incest (4:23). The sex columnist Dan Savage writes: The incest taboo is all about protecting people from the abuse of trust and power. All families--even the healthiest families--are swept by swirling currents of obligation, guilt, mind games, and emotional blackmail. How can children--even adult children--freely consent to sex with their parents? Likewise, older or more domineering siblings can hold enormous power over their brothers and sisters. How does one divine consent when one sibling is having sex with another, or a son is having sex with his mother, or a father is having sex with his daughter? In those situations it's simply impossible to define where "family life" ends and "consent" begins. Likewise, while polygamy is an accepted part of Muslim societies, it nonetheless remains unacceptable among several Muslims especially when the context is mere satiation of male lust. The sex columnist Dan Savage writes: Gender equality is today's governing public philosophy, in marriage and in much else. In other words, heterosexual marriage is not one man taking ownership over one woman, but two individuals, as equals, committing to each other. Letting same-sex couples make the same gender-neutral commitment that opposite-sex couples make doesn't open the doors to polygamy. 17) Will not acceptance of same sex unions lead to diseases? By providing a legal contract for legitimate satiation of sexual desire, transmission of STIs are curbed for it is in the absence of a marriage like contract that provides incentives to individuals both gay and straight to look for alternatives. Apart from STIs, research has shown that lesbians have higher risk of breast cancer, heart disease and obesity, while gay individuals in general are also more likely to suffer from depression, drug abuse and suicidal urges than heterosexual people. While social taboos, prejudice and discrimination might lead to stress and hence the above mentioned problems, the following about South Asian, African and Latin American individuals needs to be noted before any conclusions are made.
It is reported that South Asians are at a greater risk for both heart disease and oral cancer because of genes, diets high in saturated fats and chewing of tobacco and betel quids It is also shown that African-Americans have a much higher rate of hypertension and heart disease, whereas Latinos have a higher incidence of diabetes. Both are shown to have greater incidences of chronic stress homeostasis that may affect any group living with poverty, exclusion from necessary resources and racism. For more information please click http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4251628.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/4708710.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/789302.stm http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/772622.stm http://www.dlncoalition.org/related_issues/killing_us_slowly.htm http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=2150 FAQs on STIs 1) Can I identify someone with AIDS? You cannot tell by looking at someone whether he or she is infected with HIV. An infected person can appear completely healthy. Even when no symptoms are visible, however, anyone infected with HIV should be under a doctor’s care. 2) How does one Get HIV From sexual intercourse? It is thought that HIV can enter the body through cuts or sores some so small you don’t know they’re there on tissue in the vagina, penis, or rectum, and possibly the mouth. 3) Can I Become Infected with HIV from Oral Sex? HIV is transmitted by the introduction of infected pre-cum, semen, or vaginal secretions into another person’s body. During oral sex, the virus could enter the body through tiny cuts or sores in the mouth. 4) How Can I Tell If the Person I am Dating has been Infected with HIV? The simple answer is, you can’t. If you are thinking about becoming sexually involved with someone, here are some important questions to consider: Has this person had any sexually transmitted diseases? How many people has he or she had sex with? Has he or she experimented with drugs?
All of these are sensitive questions. But they are important, and you have a responsibility to ask. Please note that if someone is unwilling to talk, you shouldn’t have sex. 5) What Are Ways by which You Cannot Get HIV and AIDS? HIV is not spread by coughs, sweat, tears or sneezes. You won’t get HIV from clothes, phones, or toilet seats. It can’t be passed on by things like spoons, cups, or other objects that someone who is infected with the virus has used. You won’t get AIDS from a mosquito bite or from bed bugs, lice, flies, or other insects. 6) Can I become infected with HIV from French Kissing? HIV occasionally can be found in saliva, but in very low concentrations, so low that scientists believe it is virtually impossible to transmit HIV infection by deep kissing. There has never been a single case documented in which HIV was transmitted by kissing. However, scientists cannot absolutely rule out the possibility of transmission during prolonged, deep kissing because of possible blood contact due to cuts or sores in the mouth but the chances are extremely unlikely. 7) As Long as I Use a Latex Condom Every Time I Have Sex I Won't Get HIV Infection, right? Latex condoms have been shown to prevent HIV infection and other sexually transmitted diseases. You have to use them every time you have sex: vaginal, anal, and oral. It is highly unlikely to get HIV if you use a condom every time, but on rare occasions they can break. It is important to use new thicker latex condoms with a reservoir tip, water based lubricants as opposed to oil based lubricants to minimize the risk of condom breakages. Don’t use an expired condom or one that is brittle or that has been stored near heat or in your wallet or glove compartment for a long time. 8) Can STIs be avoided by proper condom usage? Some infections labeled as STIs can be transmitted by direct skin contact. Herpes simplex and HPV (linked with cervical cancer for women) are both examples. KSHV, on the other hand, may be transmitted by deep-kissing but also when saliva is used as a sexual lubricant. 9) Only promiscuous girls and cheating guys get STDs? The nicest, most innocent, sweetest, smartest, coolest, cleanest, straightest, loyal, noncheating types have STDs. The opposite is just as true. 10) I don't need to use a condom as my partner doesn't have an STD? You can't tell if someone has an STD or has remained loyal. The only way to know for sure is to get tested. Get tested together. 11) Are two condoms are better than one? The condoms rub against each other during sex and increase the chance of one or both breaking or slip off.
12) Lesbians can’t catch STIs? Vaginal infections can be transmitted between women by mixing vaginal secretions in any way. Vaginal infections and STIs like Bacterial Vaginosis and Monilia Infections, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and genital warts linked to cervical cancer, Herpes, Hepatitis B, HIV/AIDS are passed on by: • • • • • Vulva to vulva contact. Touching your genitals after touching your partner's genitals; sharing sex toys without cleaning between partners. Sleeping closely together while naked (vaginal secretions could be passed from thigh to thigh). Contact with a towel, underwear, swimsuit, sheet, etc., used recently by a woman with an infection. It is possible to pass yeast (candida) to a partner's throat through oral-genital sex.
13) How can I remain safe from STIs? The only perfectly sure way to be safe from transmitting AIDS/HIV (but NOT other STIs) is not to exchange body fluids until both of you test HIV negative after you have been having sex with only each other for at least six months. Safer sex practices need to be used which include condom usage for both penetrative and oral sex and latex barrier usage for anal-oral contact. Lesbians might want to avoid contact with a partner’s menstrual blood and use latex or vinyl gloves and water based lubricants for any manual sex that might cause bleeding. 14) What are safe sex practices? • • • • • • Avoid kissing when cuts or sores are present in or around the mouth. Use condoms, dental dams, female condoms, gloves while touching genitalia and infected areas. Both active and receptive partners must use condoms while giving and receiving oral sex. Latex sheets, dental dams or plastic wrap must be used during anal-oral contact. Use condoms for vaginal sex with dildos and toys. Use condoms for anal sex. For casual sexual contact replace high risk activities like penetrative sex with low risk activities like oral sex or with lower risk activities like mutual masturbation, hugging, massaging and kissing et al.
15) What do I do if I think I am infected with HIV or any other STI? One must note that on many occasions STIs do not show symptoms. It is absolutely essential then to get checked every six months if one is sexually active. It should also be noted that an HIV test must be repeated after the window period of six months.
In Lahore/Pakistan tests for STIs can be confidentially and non-judgmentally conducted at……… [Insert info here] For more information on safe sex practices and STIs please click: http://www.mcgill.ca/studenthealth/information/queerhealth/lesbianandstis/ http://www.stdtestexpress.com/std-myths/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality#cite_note-Bogaert2004-6 http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/publicat/std-mts/risk-eng.php#b http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality#cite_note-apahelp-0 http://www.orthogays.org/faq.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexually_transmitted_disease http://www.cfsh.ca/Sexual_Health_Info/Contraception-and-Safer-Sex/Safer-Sex/STIRisk-Chart.aspx
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